Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Believing Christ

By Stephen E. Robinson

Author Stephen Robinson illustrates the power of the Savior as he uses analogies and parables, such as his own bicycle story, and scriptures and personal experiences in this moving, best-selling book. “Mortals have finite liabilities,” he explains, “and Jesus has unlimited assets.” By merging the two, exaltation can come. As long as we progress in some degree, the Lord will be pleased and will bless us. We must not only believe in Christ but also believe him — believe that he has the power to exalt us, that he can do what he claims. People will better understand the doctrines of mercy, justification, and salvation by grace after reading this book.

This book is only 125 pages long. It took me four months to read. What does that mean? It means this book has more to offer than anything I've read in a long long time. It took me a long time to chew on its contents and I'm still in the process of digesting it all. If I even can! This book helped me understand so many misconceptions that I held about just exactly how grace works, and how the atonement is meant to change our lives. This book is for people who are so hard on themselves when they make mistakes. This book changed how I view myself and my relationship with Christ. I realized that I too was someone who believed in Christ, but I had a really hard time Believing Christ. This book is absolutely wonderful and I recommend it to everyone who has ever made a mistake. And that's all of us. I was told it was a great book to read as a companion to The Miracle of Forgiveness, because it brings the hope that the straightforwardness of President Kimball's book often time lacks. But for me, I'm glad I read it, because it has literally changed my life.

The Maze Runner

By James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Holy cow. This book is...I don't know how to even describe it. Amazing. Horrifying. Unputdownable. I've been dying to read this and waiting for Christmas was nearly unbearable. I stayed up until 3 AM finishing it, simply because I honestly could not put it down. The book begins with Thomas waking up in the shaft, and you have to find your way along with him. No memories except for brief fuzzy images. He knows what pizza is, he knows what skyscrapers are, but he has no recollection of faces or names. Not even his own family. But when he finds out that the place they are being kept is a maze, and that every day the boys called Runners go out into the maze to find their way out, he wants more than anything to become a Runner too. But they must also face the Grievers, horrible monsters that are let loose in the maze at night, and sometimes during the day too. As Thomas tries to figure out why the maze seems so familiar, everyone is in an uproar when the girl comes...the first girl ever to come. And she has a message: "Everything is about to change." It took me a full two days to decide if I liked this book or not. It certainly had my emotions in turmoil. Especially since I wasn't expecting the gigantic cliffhanger at the end. I would've been so much happier without the epilogue. That's all I'm saying. This book reminded me a lot of how I felt the first time I read The Hunger Games, so if you like that book, I definately reccomend Dashner's new series. Wow.

My Not-So-Fairy-Tale Life

By Julie Wright

Looking away, I asked as nonchalantly as my rapidly beating heart would allow, "So you're the kind of guy that believes in fairy-tales." "I am. And you're the kind of girl that believes in the reality of here and now." "When you're pregnant and living with your brother and his wife, reality seems like a safer place to stay."
Suzanne Quincy was raised by an abusive mother and an apathetic father. In an effort to escape her upbringing, Suzie chooses the numbing effects of drugs and alcohol--and the accompanying lifestyle. She reaches a crossroad when she discovers she is pregnant. Will she listen to the world and abort the baby, or will she listen to the conscience she has ignored her entire life? The choice she makes sends her down a path of self-discovery. This story is about choices and consequences, laughter and tears, and finding the truth in the midst of it all.

This one I bought because the author was in Deseret Book and it looked interesting. Not the usual stuff I would pick up. When I talked to Julie, she told me that if I didn't laugh I had no sense of humor and if I didn't cry I was a cold-hearted beast. Well, I do have a sense of humor, but aparently I'm a cold-hearted beast. Not that it wasn't cry-worthy, it truly was, but I just wasn't really connecting enough to cry. I think women who have had children will bawl. Suzanne was a very funny and completely real character. It was really awesome to see her change her life around. She finds everything that she thought was impossible, even though her life is filled with incredibly horrible things. This is a very true-to-life story that will get you thinking, and make you thankful all over again for the life that you have. Warm-fuzzies abound. Slight warning though: the first part of the book is fairly sad, so just keep plugging and it gets A LOT better.

Once Upon a Marigold

By Jean Farris

Christian is gaga for Princess Marigold. But he's just a commoner, and no match for royalty. Heck, he lives in a cave with a troll! And now he's discovered another reason to put his love-soggy heart on ice: Queen Olympia is scheming to take over the kingdom--and she'll bump off her own daughter to do it. Can Christian foil her diabolical plans?

Now this book was fun. It had just the right amount of everything. Light-hearted and funny, it follows Christian, a foundling boy that lives with the cave troll Ed, until his heart can't take just looking across the forest to where Marigold, his p-mail (pigeon mail) friend lives. The only problem is, she's a princess and he's a commoner. Hilarilous! It envolves a horrible plot to off the princess, who is just a bit strong minded, and has a pretty horrible curse on her. The book just made me smile the whole time, though it was very transparent, I just liked being along for the ride.

The Forgotten Warrior

By Kathi Oram Peterson

Forgiveness has never been an attribute of sixteen-year-old Sydney Morgan's. Loyal and loving to her mother and sister, a crisis forces her to find her absent father, which in turn begins a chain of events leading her to the last place and time she would have ever expected.
The Forgotton Warrior follows Syd as she is transported back to Book of Mormon times by touching a mysterious clear stone. She meets Chief Captain Helaman; nursemaid, Mariah; and the stripling warriors. They believe Syd to be a boy, and worse yet, Helaman's second-in-command, Tarik, thinks Syd is a Lamanite spy and threatens to kill her.
Come follow Sydney as she desperately tries to find her way back home, fights to gain Helaman's respect, and despite herself, falls in love with Tarik.

I was really excited to read this, and have wanted to for months. I hate to say it was a let-down. Hate it when that happens. And I didn't know it was the beginning of a series. Blast! Now, even though I didn't really like it, I have to finish it so I know what happens. Bother. I mean, it was okay as far as the time-traveling into the past kinda books go, but I don't think anybody can really top the Tennis shoes series on that particular genre. This paled in comparison. It just was...novice I guess. I wasn't really into it at all. But to each his own. Sydney was an interesting character. I can see the author doing a whole lot better on the next book in the sequence and developing the characters better. So maybe I'll end up liking it as a whole when the story is finished. I let you know!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How NOT to Spend Your Senior Year

By Cameron Dokey

Jo O'Connor has never finished a year of school in the same town. Her and her father have been constantly moving since she was about six years old. Jo has it down now. She doesn't even unpack her suitcases anymore. But when Jo finds out the reason why they move around so much, her life gets flipped upside down. She finally found a place that she wants to call home, and it's her senior year! But so many things go horribly wrong, and Jo finds herself running for prom queen...and everyone thinks she's dead!

This was actually a pretty funny a high school kinda way. I was a little bored and disappointed. It could've been hilarious, but there was just too much immature drama going on. I admit that I did like the plot, but some things were just unrealistic. The whole part where everyone thinks she's dead and they keep seeing her "ghost" is pretty comical. But sadly, I don't reccomend this book. It was fluffy. 'Nuff said.

The Sky Inside

By Clare B. Dunkle

Martin lives in a perfect world. Every year, a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Every spring the residents of his town take down the snow they’ve stuck to their windows and put up the flowers. Every morning his family gathers around their television, and votes, like everyone else, for whatever matter of national importance the president has on the table. Today, it is the color of his drapes. It’s business as usual under the protective dome of suburb HM1.
And it’s all about to come crashing down.
Because a stranger has come to take away all the little children, including Martin’s sister, Cassie, and no one wants to talk about where she has gone. The way Martin sees it, he has a choice. He can remain in the dubious safety of HM1, with danger lurking just beneath the surface, or he can actually break out of the suburb, into the mysterious land outside, rumored to be nothing but blowing sand for miles upon miles.
Acclaimed author Clare B. Dunkle has crafted a fresh and fast-paced science-fiction thriller, one that challenges her characters—and her readers—to look closer at the world they take for granted.

cue twilight zone music now! This book was very weird. I usually don't go for science fiction, but this one was just intriguing and I enjoy Dunkle's other books. All in all, as science ficiton goes, it was suficently creepy, eerie and a pretty good read. I liked The Giver better, but this book had the same kind of feel to it. If you're into that kind of thing. Martin is a 14; stubborn and loyal to a fault. When his little sister is taken away by a stranger, he leaves the little suburb bubble and goes outside. Something everyone has been told will kill them. When he finds out the horrible truth about his life and why they live in a buble suburb, Martin has some serious choices to make. This book pretty much is about the horrible things that humans are capable of when it comes down to survival. Or survival of the fittest.

The Frog Princess

By E.D. Baker

Princess Emerelda is just about as opposite of a fairy-tale princess as one can imagine. With a laugh like a donkey's bray, and about as graceful as a three-legged cow, she never expected that when she escaped to the swamp to find a prince-turned-frog practically begging her to kiss him. But in true fashion with her life, things go wrong. Horribly wrong. And Emma, as she is called, finds herself wrapped up in an enchantment with the only way out being she has to cooperate with Eadric, the prince that might actually be the frog of her dreams...

This book was really cutesy and fun to read. It wasn't at all surprising at what happens though. It was just a fun book to pass the time. There were even a few laugh-out-loud moments, which I greatly appreciate. Eadric is such a guy, even when he's a frog. The whole book he just keeps begging Emma to kiss him, which is really pretty funny. Emma, on the other hand, blows him off and just wants life to go back to normal again. This book is really really close to the new Disney movie that just came out "The Princess and the Frog". If you like fairy tales, this one is pretty fun to read.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Artemis Fowl

By Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl II is a twelve year old millionaire, genius, and the worlds leading criminal mastermind. His family's motto, "Gold is Power", has been the driving force for Artemis since his father's disappearance almost two years ago. With him gone, it's up to Artemis to keep the family business flourishing, and it does indeed flourish under his criminal activities.

But when Artemis decides that his next endevor will be to abduct a fairy, his bodygaurd Butler, is a little worried about his employer's sanity. But when he turns out to be right about the existance of fairies (as usual) Artemis gets more than he bargained for when he has to deal with the LEPrecon forces of the People, the fairy version of the police.

An exciting story about fairies, elves, dwarves, centaurs and many mythological creatures you only thought you knew. Artemis Fowl is the first in a series of magical proportions.

Okay, this one is a bit older, maybe ten years old now, but it is one of my all-time favorites. Now this is what I'm looking for when I want a good fantasy! The main character is an evil criminal 12-year-old genius that you can't help but like, in a I'm not sure I would ever actually want to meet you, kind of way. Each character is rich and deep. The plots are full of laughs and schemes that leave you smiling at Artemis's cranial prowess. This book is more attuned to a criminal/police story than fantasy. The fairies are just the cherry on top to make you smile. I reccommend Artemis Fowl, and his five other adventures to anyone who likes a great story with a little bit of magic in it.


By Aprilynne Pike

Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful-too beautiful for words. Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

I saw this book online and it was reccomended for people who enjoyed fantasy. I admit, there were a lot of things I though were cool about this book. The fact that they say fairies are actually the most evolved plant on earth was interesting. It was very creative and a new way to look at old myths and legends. But all in all I didn't care much for it, especially the love triangle in it. I really dislike teenage drama, and with the whole gushy-mushy way overdone teen love I was pretty sugared out by the time I was done. I don't know thought, I'm sure lots of people would really like it, Stephanie Myers actually reccomends it, so people who enjoy Twilight will probably like it. I recommend it to you people! Otherwise, beware of teen angst and hormones. (shudders)


By Carrie Jones

Zara White suspects there's a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She's also obsessed with phobias. And it's true, she hasn't exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane...but Zara's pretty sure her mom just can't deal with her right now.

She couldn't be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of Zara's overactive imagination. In fact, he's still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There's something not right-not human- in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.

In this creepy, compelling breakout novel, Carrie Jones delivers raomance, suspense, and a creature you never thought you'd have to fear.

Okay. I picked up this book against my better judgement. The cover led me to believe it was yet another vampire book. When I read the synopsis, however, it made me hope that it would be a book I would really enjoy. Wrongo-bongo. I need to listen to my subconscious. Sure it had a lot of interesting plot twists, but other than the creepy way the book proceeds, I was highly disappointed. Too much mushy stuff for me, and making out. Although I did like the phobia thing. And the way the author described her character going through the death of someone she loved was very believable. If you like werewolves and fairies you maybe might like this book. I personally don't reccommend you to read it. There are better books out there to entertain you.

Brianna, My Brother, and the Blog

By Jack Weyland

Brianna needs a friend, someonw to keep her from being lonely while she's wiating for her missionary, Robbie, to come home. And who better for the job than Robbie's brother, Austin? He can keep the other men at bay while giving Brianna guy-type help, like hauling her harp around on weekends to play at wedding receptions.

Austin needs a friend too. And Brianna is the perfect choice since there's no romantic involvement-of course not, how could there be, she's waiting for his brother after all. As a friendship develops between Austin and Brianna, Austin is free to learn what it means to be "true and faithful friends" with a girl. He begins posting his findings in blog entries that quickly gather a following of interested readers. But what will happen to his friendship with Brianna when she finds out who the real author of the blog is? Because the truth is, Austin isn't looking for just a friend anymore, but something more. WIll he have the courage to tell Brianna the truth-before Robbie comes home?

You've gotta love Jack Weyland if you're LDS. He brings this all too real story to life with humor and a few shake-your-head moments where you are yelling at the various characters, "Oh no! Don't say that!" This story is one that people in the singles ward scene will enjoy. I mean, you've got the girl 'waiting' for her missionary, and the brother who feels deeply for someone who might end up becoming his sister-in-law! Weyland pretty much perfectly has the differences between guys and girls down in this book. I laughed my head off many times...though it could've been the late hour that I read it. I picked it up to just read a few chapters and I was hooked and finished the whole thing in one sitting and didn't even get tired. I honestly started crying I was laughing so hard at the last page. This was a great read for anyone who enjoys Weyland's down-to-earth style about life.

Monday, November 16, 2009


By George MacDonald

It is the story of Mr. Vane, an orphan and heir to a large house-a house in which he has a vision that leads him through a large mirror into another world. In chronicling the five trips Mr. Vane makes to this other world, MacDonald hauntingly explores the ultimate mystery of evil.

Lilith is a journey into another world, where nothing is as it seems and hardly anything is understood to Mr. Vane who travels there. The mysterious Mr. Raven, who guides him in his journey, talks in riddles that frustrate him because he does not understand. In his journey death is much talked of, and there is much evil met as he wanders a strange new land. But joys are wraught as well as Mr. Vane meets with the Little Ones, a group of loving little children who (like Peter Pan) grow so slowly that it seems they are always children. There is also Mara, who is known as the Cat Woman, by those who fear her. And then there is Lilith, for whom the story is named, and her sad tale of misery and endless life for her wickedness.

To be quite frank, I read this slowly so to understand it, but did not accomplish my goal. I am as confused as when I began on ending it. There is but little that seemed intelligable, but it left the traces of having something within its pages that was wise and true. I hope to be able to read it again soon that I may perhaps get more out of the second reading. For now, I cautiously say that it is a strange novel, and am not quite sure as to what it meant. I got a great feeling of life after death, and the messages to those who are alive. But as for anything else, all I could say would be wild guessing.

On a side note: this book was the book in which my grandmother got her name, and in turn my own name. I only wish that the character from which my grandmother got her name was a better one! (She named herself the queen of down where it is hot.) Ah well, my grandmother made the name mean great and good things! I'm proud to be named Lilith after her.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Silas Marner

By George Eliot

Embittered by a false accusation, disappointed in friendship and love, the weaver Silas Marner retreats into a long twilight life alone with his loom...and his gold. Silas hoards a treasure that kills his spirit until fate steals it from him and replaces it with a golden-haired foundling child. Where she came from, who her parents were, and who really stole the gold are the secrets that permeate this moving tale of guilt and innocence. A moral allegory of the redemptive power of love, it is also a finely drawn picture of early nineteenth-century England "in the days when spinning wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses," and of a simple way of life that was soon to disappear.

Here's another novel I started ages ago and only just decided to finish. I've never read any of George Eliot's works, but I still remember reading the above description, which caught me as both timeless and beautiful. Reading the story of Silas Marner, and in turn the vilagers of Raveloe, was a slow process, but a savory one as well. The first half of the novel is introducing us to the characters and their past deeds and personalities. It is a very important thing to know, though can sometimes be dull and I found myself wondering why I needed to know this; but it was of essential purpose to the end of the story, which flew by in warmth and tender feelings. As with all classic works, it can be a chore to at first begin, but the merits of successfully finishing and digesting it are all too worth the effort.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


By Jane Austen

First published in 1818, Persuasion was Jane Austen's last work. Its mellow character and autumnal tone have long made it a favorite with Austen readers. Set in Somersetshire and Bath, the novel revolves around the lives and love affairs of Sir Walter Elliot, his daughters Elizabeth, Ann and Mary, and various in-laws, friends suitors and other characters. In Anne Elliot, the author created perhaps her sweetest, most appealing heroine.
At the center of the novel is Anne's thwarted romance with Captain Frederick Wentworth, a navy man Anne met and fell in love with when she was 19. At the time, Wentworth was deemed an unsuitable match and Anne was forced to break off the relationship. Eight years later, however, they meet again. By this time Captain Wentworth has made his fortune in the navy and is an attractive "catch." However, Anne is now uncertain about his feelings for her...

I, like so many other women, adore Jane Austen's works. Having never read Persuasion before, I was immediately struck with a deep attachment to this novel. Anne is all that is good and sweet, but often too passive in regards to her letting others persuade her into situations that she does not like. Captain Wentworth is a gentlemen and is greatly liked by all. In the characters of Anne's father and sisters, we find little to admire and much to find fault with, and therein lies the anguish for Anne; often overlooked and unloved. While very unlike the fiesty heroine Elizabeth Bennett, Anne Elliot is a tender figure and I found myself hoping that she would find happiness in the end, and knowing Jane Austen, I knew she would get it. I must say that I greatly enjoyed Persuasion and it went directly on my favorites shelf. This is only the third of Austen's novels I've read, and all three have been absolutely wonderful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Quick Poll

Okay, this is just me wondering if people are still reading this blog, I think you are, but when I get no comment I just am not sure. Is there something I could do to make my blog better? I need suggestions. What do you all think? I feel like I'm stuck in a rut.

Some Fruits of Solitude

By William Penn

When William Penn wrote these words in 1693, he had served as a Quaker preacher, minister, and missionary for over 20 years. He had been imprisoned for his faith half a dozen times. He had written dozens of books and pamphlets defending his faith and arguing for religious tolerance. He had founded Pennsylvania as a refuge for those persecuted for their faith, and he had been a friend and advisor to the King of England. But after being falsely accused of treason, he was forced into hiding for three years until he could clear his name. During those years of imposed solitude, he had time to think, to reflect, to reevaluate. This book is the product of that solitude. In it, Penn distills the essence of his spiritual idealism, combining it with practicality and common sense. His topics range from our choice of clothing to our choice of a spouse, from the benefits of a country life to the nature of virtue. He presents a practical morality, while also addressing the conditions of the heart that lie behind it.
For all of us who have at times gotten caught up in the values of the society we live in, for all of us who have gotten caught up in the maddening rush over things that really have no deep value, Penn's reflections offer us a needed point of reference and call us back to a place of sane spirituality.

So this is the first book I've read on my Harvard Classics list, and it was very wonderful. I've quoted it multiple times already and have gained some insight into my own life and peace of mind from Penn's words. It reminded me a lot of when I read Thoreau's Walden and all the experiences he had while living alone. While there were many things I smiled at, condoned, and believed were very true, there were also things that I felt missed the mark, if marginally. It still is a beautiful work, though sometimes hard to understand the language, and I would recommend it to any just to have with them to read at odd moments. The layout is such that it reads in verses, much like scripture, with each topic as a heading. It's a quick read, with a lot of worth in it, from a man who was rich in experience and good character. my favorite excerpt:

"He that lives in love lives in God...And to be sure a Man can live no where better...Love is indeed Heaven upon Earth; since Heaven above would not be Heaven without it: For where there is not love; there is Fear: But perfect love casts out fear. And yet we naturally fear most to offend what we most love. What we love, we'll hear; what we love, we'll trust, and what we love, we'll serve, ay, and suffer for too."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Castle Corona

By Sharon Creech

Long ago and far away there was a castle. But not just any castle. This was a castle that glittered and sparkled and rose majestically above the banks of the winding Winono River: the Castle Corona. And in this castle lived a family. But not just any family. This was the family of King Guido: rich and royal and...spoiled. And King Guido was so spoiled that neither jewels nor gold nor splendid finery could please him, for what he longed for most was...a nap and a gown that didn't itch.

Far below this grand, glittering castle lived two peasants. These peasants, though poor and pitiful, were plucky and proud. And in possession of a stolen pouch. But not just any pouch. A pouch whose very contents had the power to unlock secrets and transform lives...

I've had this book for a couple of years and just now have gotten to it. The reason I read it so fast is thanks to insomnia. It was a cute little story that was fast-paced and interesting to read. The characters were fairly predictable, especially the royals, it was later in the book when I started to like them as they got a little more depth. I think this would be a fun little fairy-tale like book to read to kids at bedtime. It's fun to read and has a few very good morals in it, all in all it was a fluffy fun book.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Dark is Rising

By Susan Cooper

On the Midwinter Day that is his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton discovers a special gift-he is the last of the Old Ones, immortals dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark. At once, he is plunged into a quest for the six magical Signs that will one day aid the Old Ones in the final battle between the Dark and the Light. And for the twelve days of Christmas, while the Dark is rising, life for Will is full of wonder, terror, and delight.

I started to read this about six months ago after I bought it for my birthday, but I stopped because I thought I just couldn't get into it at the time; turns out as I got about two-thirds the way through it this time that I remembered the reason why I stopped reading it: it's the second book in the sequence. I was miffed at myself. No wonder so many things just seemed to jump into the unknown! All in all, having not read the first book, which is called, Over Sea, Under Stone, this book was interesting to read. It was very iconic in the use of Dark vs. Light and the signs of power and the struggle of good vs. evil. Cooper has a very unique and yet classic way of writing, it seems to just suck you into this ancient-feeling story that is older than time itself. It's very poetic and original, yet strikes a familiar chord which everyone will relate. As for the story itself, plot, characters and all, I'm still quite confused and will have to backtrack and read the first book to see if that clears matters up at all. For now, I'll just say, well done and superb writing!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Far World: Land Keep (Book 2)

By J. Scott Savage

Four mythical elementals-Water, Land, Air, and Fire-have the power to save two worlds, Earth and Farworld, from a common enemy: the Dark Circle. In book one, Water Keep, Marcus, a disabled boy from Earth, and Kyja, a girl with no magic from Farworld, begin their epic quest to find the Elementals before it is too late.

In book two, Land Keep, Marcus and Kyja travel with Cascade, a Water Elemental, toward Land Keep, the home of the powerful and wise Land Elementals. However, their journey may end before it even begins. Land Keep is empty, deserted for at least a thousand years, and the rumor is that the creatures who once controlled all land magic are extinct. Marcus and Kyja's only hope seems to lie in finding the Augur Well, a legendary Oracle protected by subtle traps and mind-bending trials. To succeed in their quest, Marcus and Kyja must also avoid the Keepers of the Balance, an order dedicated to redistributing magic to the rich and powerful. And they must travel far underground, where Cascade is unable to follow and where they will be unable to leap to the safety of Earth.

As the Dark Circle closes around them, Marcus and Kyja are faced with the temptation of what they desire most. Sacrifices must be made, and not everyone will survive unscathed.
Okay, this is another book published by shadow mountain (same as Fablehaven) that I started reading last year when the first book came out. Water Keep was fun to read and I found myself remembering passages at odd times ever since. I didn't even know the second book was coming out until my sister had it and offered to let me borrow it. I've had a lot of fun reading it and am enjoying the journey. I particularly like this series because the main character is disabled. His left arm and right leg are mangled and he has to rely on others a lot. I was so glad that the author decided to give his protagonist a physical disability. It made it a lot more fun to read and I enjoyed seeing how he got around and developed as a character. This book is interesting, with the magical farworld, and then the unmagical (but still amazing) Earth, seemingly both sides of the same coin and interwoven tightly together. It's basically about Marcus and Kyja, two young kids who are destined to save farworld. They have to gather one elemental (creatures that control the separate elements) and open a rift between earth and farworld. The book talks a good deal about weakness, and how they can become strengths and vice-versa. It has a lot of good morals in it, and puts it out there that while things aren't easy, and sometimes we make mistakes, nothing can stop us from trying but ourselves. I like it a lot and am excited for the next two books. A fun read all around.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Peter and the Starcatchers

By Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

In an evocative and fast-paced adventure on the high seas and on a faraway island, an orphan boy named Peter and his mysterious new friend, Molly, overcome bands of pirates and thieves in their quest to keep a fantastical secret safe and save the world from evil. This impossible-to-put-down tale leads readers on an unforgettable journey-fraught with danger, yet filled with mystical and magical moments.

So I've had this book for about three years and I finally got around to reading it. I was plesantly surprised at what I found. At first I was thinking, 'no way can they do a spin off Peter Pan'. I don't even like the Disney version for heavens sake! But this was done well enough to earn my approval. It was fun to find out the 'origins' of Neverland, the crocodile and his tastes for a certain pirate, how Peter got to be a great flyer, and where he met Tinker Bell. It was a great story and kept a good pace. It will be interesting to see what they've done with the other three Peter Pan books that have come out since this first one. I enjoyed it and was duly entertained. Though I still prefer Barry's original script. I'd reccommend this book to anyone who likes the story of Peter Pan, they'll be very entertained!

Monday, October 12, 2009

David Copperfield

By Charles Dickens

"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show." So begins Dickens story of David Copperfield, a young man whose journey through an impoverished childhood brings him into an adult life that is eventually filled with material success as he takes up authorship.
Full of memorable characters and in classic Dickens style, David Copperfield tells the story about the life of a young man who takes us through many of the lessons we all must learn and shows us his triumphs and mistakes. David shows us through his life that kindness and amiability will win us friends, fortunes, and treasures beyond all earthly possessions.

YAY!! I finally finished! Okay, I started this months ago, and sorta died and lost interest about halfway through (it's an 800 page book in the culture of victorian england) and didn't pick it up until three days ago. Accordingly, I couldn't put it down, and finished it in that short time. The ending was very full of surprising circumstances and I was hooked. It was quite fun to follow the characters, whom Dickens always portrays so vividly. David's Aunt Betsy Trotwood was quite hilarious, as a woman who disdained matrimony and was forever chasing donkeys off of her property, waving her bonnet and scaring any folk who came around. Uriah Heep was always writhing and making me cringe with his declarations of being 'umble. And then there was Mr. Micawber with his flowery letters and lack of common sense when it came to expenses. Each character, no matter how small in the story, was represented so wonderfully that I can immediately call up their likeness in my mind.
As for the story itself, I admit is a bit hard to get through (as it took me a few months with a grand break in the middle). Reading 800 pages of the slow-moving pace at which David narrates his story is a bit trying. Especially since I've gotten quite out of the habbit of reading slower...I usually devour books in a short while, so it was difficult to slow down. But as with all of the classic literature the first thing I said when I read the last line was, "I love Dickens." with a sigh and a smile. It's a great work of literature, and I enjoyed it greatly, and I enjoy the day after when I keep thinking of all the things I've read. Apparently from the little I know of Dickens himself, this book is supposed to be losely based on his own life. I don't much like to read other people's oppinions though, they tend to ruin a great work of literature for me by making it base and perverting it. When all is said and done, I loved reading it, and especially the last two paragraphs where David Praises the love of his life in making him into the man he became.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Lighthouse War

By Adrian McKinty

When a mysterious message is picked up by the Cassini space probe orbiting Saturn, the world's leading scientists race to decode it. But only two people on Earth have the knowledge to read it...
Jamie O'Neill and his best friend, Ramsay, are seemingly ordinary guys: They play in a band called the Ayatollahs of Funk, wish they had girlfriends...and once saved an alien people from annihilation. they know the message from space is a call for help-their help.
But a return to the planet Altair is fraught with danger, physical and emotional. Wishaway, the girl Jamie fell for on their last visit, has married someone else, and the war-loving Alkhavans, whom Jamie and Ramsay once defearted, are on the rise again. This time their goal is the strange, fish-shaped device that enables Jamie to travel between planets. If the Salmon falls into the wrong hands, Jamie, Ramsay, and two unexpected hitchhikers will be stranded on Altair forever. And even worse, the ruthless Alkhavens will be on their way to Earth!

Thrills, laughs, and surprises await in this second book in The Lighthouse Trilogy, which Publishers Weekly called "enjoyable" and "intelligent" and Kliatt call "fresh and unique."

I've gotta stop starting series. I think I'm in the middle of at least ten. This one is a bit different from my usual reads. First off, usually I don't go for alien literature or sci-fi stuff. It's just a little too wierd normally. I finished this second book in quite the hurry, and I didn't like it as much as the first book. It sort of lost the character depth and seemed to be a bit too plot driven for my tastes. I did greatly enjoy the end, as it brought a bit of a twist that I liked. I don't know if I'd recomend anyone continuing on with this book. The nice thing is, you can read the first book and you don't feel like you have to read the next one. I'll let you all know as soon as I read the last book in the trilogy. Then I'll tell you if it's worth the time. All in all though, it has a fun story and it is quite different from the norm of today. It's got some hints of some past sci fi novels, and it does have some hilarious times where it mentions things from pop culture. I laughed right out loud at lines about Harry Potter and Star Wars. It's entertaining- when all is said and done.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ranger's Apprentice: The Burning Bridge

By John Flanagan

For years, the Kingdom of Araluen has prospered, with the evil lord Morgarath safely imprisoned by impassable mountains. For years, its people have felt secure. But the scheming hand of the dark lord has not been idle...
On a special mission for the Rangers, Will and his friend Horace, an apprentice knight, travel to a neighboring village and discover the unsettling truth: All the villagers have been either slain or captured. But for what purpose? Could it be that Morgarath has finally devised a plan to bring his legions over the supposedly insurmountable pass? If so, the King's army is in imminent danger of being crushed in a fierce ambush.
And Will and Horace are the only ones who can help them.

On to book 2! Yup, I found it at the library, and I was just as happy reading this one as the first book. It's an awesome book for kids, I say especially younger boys who like sword fights and good adventure stories. It does have some swear-words in it, which I thought was the only drawback. And I must say that Mr. Flanagan has gotten me addicted enough to be certain of my continuing to read his books. The second book ended with such a wrenching cliffhanger that I was dying to get my hands on the next book immediately. It's fast-paced and fun to read. I haven't read a good knight-like book in some time, it's been great to get into it again.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Snow White and Rose Red

By Patricia C. Wrede

The Queen of Faerie has two half-mortal sons. Hugh is content to stay in Faerie, but John feels compelled to roam the mortal lands, returning home to visit between Hallowe'en and May Eve. Then, because the beautiful but willful spirit Madini wishes to see all ties between Faerie and mortal lands severed forever, he is forbidden to leave home again.

Snow White and Rose Red live on the edge of the forest that conceals the ever-shifting, elusive border of Faerie. They know enough about Faerie lands and mortal magic to be most concerned when they find two human socerers setting spells near the Faerie border on the day of All Hallows.

And when the kindly, intelligent black bear wanders into their cottage some months later, they do not realize the connection between his plight and the sorcery they saw in the forest...

Yes, I read another fairy-tale novel. I know everyone must be sick of them, but I just can't help myself. Even after I get disappointed time and time again, I just have to keep punishing myself. This story wasn't fantastic, but it wasn't terrible either. I was quite attached to John and Hugh, but all the other characters seemed a little...comical. And the language threw me off quite a bit. It's set in Elizabethan Englan, and the language reflects it. I was constantly tripping over the thous, t'was, and hadst, and had to figure out a few little uses of words that meant something completely different than they do now. I was a little frusterated, as if I wanted to be harangued about language, I would read Shakespeare thank you very much. It takes concentration to keep up with Elizabethan language, and I wanted none of it, so I was mad at having to deal with it, even if it was simlified a lot. I honestly wouldn't waste my time with this one. It was fluffy, but also had some wierd little snippits of 'magic' that was similar to what I would've called black magic that strange people still believe in, and frankly that stuff makes me uneasy and finding it in a book for kids was a little disturbing. Oh well, I'm probably over-reacting, but that stuff really just creeps me out.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan

By John Flanagan

The Rangers, with their shadowy ways, have always made him nervous. And now fifteen-year-old Will has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. But what he doesn't yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom who will fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time he will not be denied....

This book turned out to be quite fun to read, and I truly liked the story. It is similar to others, knights, magic, honor and love. Will is very likeable, the 'everyman' of the story, as often happens with the protagonist. But not only is there a strong main character, but many wonderful side characters, including The Rangers themselves. It is a good story, I'd think that younger boys would really like it a lot. So far there are six books in the series, but each book is around 250 pages, so it is a very quick read. I specifically liked the little side story about how this story came about. It was a story that John Flanagan told his son Michael. It has become a best-seller for youths, and I can see why. It has the feel of the old tales around the times of King Arthur, and a heart to match. A fun read for adults and kids alike.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Book Title Survey!

I found this on another bookblogger's site and had to do my own. I had fun coming up with the best answers. A few were kinda hard and may be hard to understand if you don't know me.

Instructions: Using only books you have read this year (2009), cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title.

Describe Yourself: Things Not Seen (Andrew Clemments) I'm a hermit in training.

How do you feel: Beastly (Alex Flinn)

Describe where you currently live: The Lighthouse Land (Adrian McKinty)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Austenland (Shannon Hale)

Your favorite form of transport: Castle in the Air (Diana Wynne Jones)

Your best friend is: The Goose Girl (Shannon Hale)

What's the weather like: Watch the Skies (James Patterson)

Favorite time of day: Midnight Pearls (Debbie Viguie)

What is life to you: Belle (Cameron Dokey) That means beauty-just in case you didn't know.

Your fear: Catching Fire (Suzane Collins) It really is.

What is the best advice you have to give: As a Man Thinketh (James Allen)

Thought for the Day: However Long and hard the Road (Jeffery R. Holland)

How I would like to die: Curse of the Shadow Plague (Brandon Mull)

My soul's present condition: Inkheart (Cornelia Funke) as in, my heart bleeds ink!

The Lighthouse Land

By Adrian McKinty

When Jamie O'Neill's mother inherits a small island in Ireland, she packs up the family apartment in Harlem and moves her son to the Irish coast. Devastated by the loss of his arm to cancer, Jamie hasn't spoken in a year, and at first the move doesn't seem enough to shake him from his despair.

But the island has a secret, locked in the top of its ancient lighthouse, and Jamie, a descendent of the last of the Irish kings, is its inheritor. Discovering the secret will send him on an intersteller mission that could change the course of his life, and the universe, forever. The Lighthouse Land is the first thrilling installment in an epic trilogy.

So, this was one of those books that I saw and though, 'hmmm, it's got a cool title, and the cover looks interesting, I think I'll try it.' The last few times I've done this I have been horribly disappointed, but thankfully my bad luck ran out and I found this fun mix of science fiction and fantasy. The story is interesting, though I did smile to myself a few times at some of the more unbelievable parts. It's basically about a kid who has gone through the trauma of having cancer and is really just stuck in limbo not knowing how his life could ever be the same after losing his arm. In a sort of self-imposed isolation, he refuses to anyone. But when he moves to Ireland with his mother, he finally makes a friend that doesn't skirt around him because of his arm, or his choice not to speak. And he and his new friend make the discovery of a lifetime...and so they start on an adventure that leads Jamie to find his voice again, and make discoveries about himself that he never knew before. It was a great read, and one that I couldn't put down. There were only a few little setbacks for me, one being the rather naively written romance, or perhaps its well written, since Jamie is 13. I don't know. Then, it does swear quite a bit. Jamie's good buddy has a filthy mouth, and Jamie isn't too bad himself sometimes. But other than that, I enjoyed it heartily, and it gave me quite a few laughs and gave me some things to think about; which is my favorite part of a good book.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


By Cornelia Funke

Okay, here's another one I can't summarize without giving away the first two books in the series. I don't think I've even reviewed Inkspell, which is the second book. This is the third and last book in the Inheart trilogy. It's so good. It did take me quite a while to get into it though. It's not like some books that just suck you in from the begginning. It probably took me about 5-10 chapters to start getting to the point where I really wanted to read it. It changed perspectives a lot which confused me just a bit. Sometimes I couldn't tell if it was Meggie or Mo who was speaking for a paragraph or two. But it's not enough to detract, and it was probably just me. The characters gain even more depth in this last installment, and I just love Mo! He seriously is my hero. I mean, a bookbinder! I started learning the art after I read Inkheart and I'm getting really into it. I'm saving up my pennies to get the tools of the trade. It just makes my endorphins go wild! Okay, sorry, I'm digressing. The whole series just seems to be written for people who love to read/write. Everyone who loves reading should try it out. I adore them and thank Mo for getting me started into bookbinding! :D

Catching Fire

By Suzane Collins

Okay, I'm just going to go right into my review for this one, because I can't figure out how to summarize what this book is about without giving things away. This is the second book in The Hunger Games series. IT IS SO GOOD! But also horrible. I was in shock about some of the things Katniss has to go through. I literally couldn't put it down. I read it in about 5 hours, putting it down at 2 AM in the morning, and then stewing for another hour because I just couldn't believe it, and then when I finally did go to sleep I dreamed about it all night. No joke.

This book starts by just sucking you right into the story, and then you enter the black hole that is Panem and District 12 and you're gone for the next few hours. I honest to goodness have never read a book where I had absolutely no idea, not even a suspision about what was going to happen next. I couldn't believe some of the things that happened. Now that I'm writing this review I just keep thinking of things and shake my head and about start crying because I'll have to wait another year until the last book comes out. Everyone should read this series. Wow. Holy Cow. It is so incredible. If you haven't read this series, start. Now. Read The Hunger Games! Then go get Catching Fire! They are fantabulouso! I can't get over it. WOW!!!

The Witch's Boy

By Michael Grubber

"Once upon a time, in a faraway country, there was a woman who lived by herself in the middle of the great forest." So begins the story of a woman who finds an ugly distorted baby in the woods and decides to raise him as her own, calling him Lump, for that was how he looked. While the woman is wise in the ways of magic, she knows little of being a mother, as she gives the bear Ysul to be Lump's nursmaid, and a djinn to be his tutor. As can be expected, all does not go well, and many misfortunes befall both the woman and the boy.

Because of his ugliness, Lump is cruelly treated, and harbors a self-loathing that even magic cannot cure. He begins wearing a mask to hide his face, and shuns the people who would have been friends. With clever ways of inserting old fairy tales into the workings of this grand fairy tale of the Witch's Boy, it is both well written, and heartfelt. Lump's journey into becoming a man is one no one will want to miss, as it is filled with heartache, sadness, magic, and in the end, a joy above all.

I recently read this book for the second time, and I just love it. The first time I read it, I was really quite depressed while reading it, pity for Lump mixed in with my disappointment in his choices. He was an ideal main character, and while he makes some very horrible decisions, he also turns into a character that everyone will love. This book starts rather happy, then turns darker and darker, only to have the sun shining at high noon at the very last page. I would reccomend this book to anyone who likes fairytales, though this one is completely original. You'll find the stories of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretl, and even Rumplstilskin intertwined within the pages. It's fun to try and find them as you're reading. It's a fun coming of age book with a magical twist.

As a Man Thinketh

By James Allen

Throughout his life, James Allen sought an oasis of tranquility amidst the violent tides of change wrought by the Industrial Revolution in England. Inspired by his meditations, he composed a series of short, pointed essays on the power of thinking positively and its influence on character, circumstance, and health. Since its publication, As a Man Thinketh has put that power in the hands of millions of readers, and continues to provide inspiration in the twenty-first century.

In expanding on the aphorism "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," Allen takes in the full range of natural philosphy. His message is that we are the architects of our own destiny, and that the tools for building a purposeful, satisfying life lie within us, "Only the wise man, only he he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of the soul obey him," writes Allen. As a Man Thinketh is a book of optimism, hope, and practical good sense for all those seeking wisdom and serenity in a turbulent, complex world.

I was first introduced to As a Man Thinketh in my institute class my freshman year of college. I had every intention of picking it up and reading the whole of his essays, but it has taken me three years to actually do it. I wish I would've read it sooner. Allen's book is full of great and powerful truths about the way we work and how our thoughts direct our lives. It is absolutely amazing. I read it and found out a lot about myself and have started putting many of its teachings into practice. Everyone should not only read this book, but they should go buy it, and read it again and again, marking it and treasuring it. It is one of those books that will make your life better by reading it! It went directly on my 'favorites' shelf, only to go right back into my purse to read whenever I get a moment. Again, it is fantastic!

Freak the Mighty

By Rodman Philbrick

"Killer Kane, Killer Kane, had a kid who got no brain!"

That's what they used to yell at me, and then they'd run like crazy because I'm the spitting image of my bad old dad. Or so they say. I never gave it a lot of thought beause basically it was easier to act brainless, and when you're as big as I am, people believe it. Even my mother's people, Grim and Gram, even they were afraid of me.
Everything changed when Freak moved into the neighborhood. Little dude about two feet tall, he was smarter than Einstein, so smart he wrote his own dictionary, and invented flying machines, and discovered buried treasure, and the weird thing is, he wasn't afraid of me. No way, he was too smart for that.
Okay, so Freak was a genius, but was I really as dumb as I looked? You better believe it. I never had a brain until Freak came along because there were certain things I didn't want to remember. Bad things, terrible things.
Later, when we started having our adventures, slaying dragons and fools and walking high above the world, it was Freak himself who taught me that remembering is a great invention of the ind, and if you try hard enough you can remember anything, whether is happened or not.
And that's the truth. The unvanquished truth. Like everything inside this book.

Okay, I picked this book up at the used book store, thinking it would be really good, because well I saw the movie and it was fantastic. This book apparently was one of the few exceptions (in my mind) that the movie was better. This is only the second book I've come across that I liked the movie better. So, instead of reading this, go rent the movie. It's really really good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Daniel X Watch the Skies

By James Patterson and Ned Rust

Lights: All's quiet in the small town of Holliswood-television sets, computers, and portable devices are alglow in every home, classroom, and store. But not all is perfect. Evil is lurking, just out of sight, behind the screen.

Camera: From the darkest depths of James Patterson's imagination flickers the most terrifying character yet: a villain with more ambition than the world can withstand, dead set on throwing a sleepy town into chaos and documenting the destruction of every person in it, including Daniel.

Extermination: Daniel X is the only person who can stop this made-for-TV tyrant from wiping out the city and everyone living there. This devilish director assembles an all-star team of his own creation, and not even Daniel can imagine the enormity of his plans. Can Daniel X stop this deranged outlaw before he stages the most spectaular finale the world has ever seen? Or will Daniel find himself on the cutting-room floor?

This is the second book in the Daniel X series, and I just can't figure why I like them so much. To be honest, the plot is kinda obvious, the villian is pretty cheesy, and the banter is just over-the-top sometimes. I know! It's like a cartoon-book, that's why I like it so much! No, seriously, if this were made into a cartoon, it would rank top on the airwaves. It's got Alien Hunter action and adventure, it's got the teen drama angle, it's got the very funny (sometimes witty) dialogue and the entertainment value it pretty high. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely serious, I love cartoons (I know I'm in my twenties, so sue me) so I'm not bashing the book at all or being duplicitous. I really like the characters and the story that has been set up, its unique in so many ways that it makes me just happy to read it. Of course, at the end of the day it's still fantasy, but it's a fun way to spend your day- it only takes me about two hours to read a book-and I think kids who like comic heroes and such would like Daniel X. It's right down their superpowered alley.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Fledging of Az Gabrielson

By Jay Amory

Az is one of the Airborn. With a stretch and a beat of their eight foot wings his people travel effortlessly around and between their cities, perched high above the clouds. It's a life of ease and airy beauty. Only Az has no wings, so in his glorious world of freedom and flight, he is a painful-and isolated- oddity.
And then one day he is picked out for a job. A job below the clouds. The system of massive automated elevators which send up everything the Airborn need to survive, are breaking down-and threatening to take the Airborn society with them. Someone has to go down to the Ground to find out what has happened and Az, with his wingless similarity to the prehistoric Groundlings, looks to be perfect for the task of hunting for answers beneath the clouds.
But on the Ground, in the vast shadows of the cities, Az finds more questions than answers: a benighted people who worship a dim notion of the Airborn and aspire to be like them. A people who fill elevators with tributes to their winged deities. A people who are beginning to think their way of life is part of a very un-natural order of things.

And a girl called Cassie Grubdollar, who's definitely no angel...

For some reason, the notion of people having wings has always intrigued me. I've written short-stories about it myself. Reading Maximum Ride didn't do it for me with its winged heroine, but this book came a lot closer to satisfying my intrigue. In fact, it was very fun to read. I enjoyed the characters immensely; Jay Amory has that flair for giving characters a vivacious and vibrant life. His novel is very plot-driven, but he doesn't forget his characters, who instead of being drowned out by the story get refined and strengthened by it. I absolutely was tickled by this, as you don't see it as often with fantasy anymore. The story is also one that has a lot of parallels to actual life, making it feasible and real. You've got Az, who has always been on the outside with his people, you've got Cassie, who is so practical and headstrong that it hurts to read sometimes, and then you've got characters like Serena Aanfielsdaughter, the strong female leader with wisdom and experience. It's got all sorts of facets in it, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a great story with memorable characters. It was fantastic, and I can't wait to read the next book. (Yes it is a series, but the book can stand on its own) The only criticism I have is that I wish it could've been told in just one, maybe two perspectives instead of a plethora of them. That's just my preference though, it doesn't detract at all. So, read this book if you want a great story, fast paced, and enjoyable.

Friday, August 14, 2009

By These Ten Bones

By Clare B. Dunkle

A mysterious young man has come to a small Highland town. His talent for carving soon wins him work at the castle-and the admiration of the weaver's daughter, Maddie. Fascinated by the silent carver, she sets out to gain his trust, only to find herself drawn into a terrifying secret that threatens everything she loves.
There is an evil presence in the wood carver's life that cannot be controlled, and Maddie watches her town fall under a shadow. One by one, people begin to die. Caught in the middle, Maddie must decide what matters most-and what price she is willing to pay to keep it.

This was my second time around reading this book, and it passed the test of time. I still absolutely was engrossed. The best part about this book is the characters and the timelessness of good vs. evil and love crossing all boundaries. Just the kind of thing that is right down my alley. I would highly recommend this book to people who love mythological creatures (especially Werewolves) and medieval times. This book is set in Scotland fairly soon after Christianity was introduced and accepted, but still harbors Pagan beliefs and superstition. My only warning is this: it has some quite gruesome descriptions and gory sections in it that on my first reading I felt were overdone. Although, it didn't truly bother me because it was so over-the-top I couldn't believe it anyway. Although it does make for some strong imagery in your brain. I suggest ages being at least 14 to read this. Just to get where it's coming from. Overall though, I'd love to own this book for the great story, characters, plot, and message. It gave me some things to think about.

The Amaranth Enchantment

By Julie Berry

'I looked up to see the prince- the prince!- peering down over the counter's edge at me.
"You don't need to do that," he said.
"Do what?"
"Get down on your knees. Unless you are proposing marriage."
I scrambled to my feet. "As you wish." I dusted off my skirt. "You know best." Stupid response! Could I mortify myself any more?
He turned and doffed his hat to Uncle, who'd only just barely gotten back on his feet.
"I fear I must be going, sir," he said. "I haven't time for a special order. I need something sooner." His eyes glanced my way. "Your shop assistant shows great promise."
He was mocking me. I was ridiculous to him.
Then he bowed to me. "A pleasure. Might I ask your name?"
As God is my witness, I swear this is true: I couldn't think what it was.'

This was one of those books I found in the library, hoping to find something nice and fluffy with a fun romance and good humor in it. I was sort of hoping for the reincarnation of Ella Enchanted. Lets just say, I wasn't enchanted. It was strange and lacked the barriers that a story needs. I still have no clue what point, if any, the author was trying to make. It was a nice story, but it just felt really novice, which is to be expected with a first novel from Julie Berry. But I was really disappointed, I guess I was hoping for a great read and put my expectations too high. It's alright to pass the time, but overall I would find something better to read. It didn't even have a good love story. Sigh.

P.S. Sorry it's taken so long, I've been having some personal issues, so I haven't been reading much. It'll get better from here I think.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book of a Thousand Days

by Shannon Hale

"My lady and I are being shut up in a tower for seven years..."

When Dashti, a maid, and Lady Saren, her mistress, are shut in a tower for seven years because of Saren's refusal to marry a man she despises, the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment.

As food runs low and the days go from broiling hot to freezing cold, it is all Dashti can do to keep them fed and comfortable. With the arrival outside the tower of Saren's two suitors-one welcome, the other decidedly less so-the girls are confronted with both hope and great danger, and Dashti must make the desperate choices of a girl whose life is worth more than she knows.

I finished this book for the third time today and was just as smitten as the first time I read it. I adore the story, the uniqueness of it, but the classic tale of a girl who, though common, raises her fortunes through sheer will to live and honor her promises, is one that will never grow old. Dashti has a voice that shines through the paper and is a lot of fun to read her own history of what befalls her and her mistress. This book gained the honor of sitting on my 'favorites' shelf along with two others of Shannon Hale. It's a great story, full of adventure, love, and mystery. Read it and you will love it, 100% guaranteed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Little Women

By Louisa May Alcott

They hate each other, love each other, battle and protect each other: they are sisters. JO: The hot-tempered rebel who adores pet rats and writing-but detests everything about being a girl. MEG: the high-energy romantic who loves love- and is bitter about all she can't own. BETH: the timid, mousey invalid, terrified of everything-except kittens, dolls...and music. AMY: the spoiled beauty princess who schemes to have the life of the rich and famous.
Different as night and day, light and dark; but together they face all of life's agony and love's magic. For despite poverty and war, the March sisters have all they need to survive: They have each other.

In all truthfulness, I never intended to read this book because I thought it would be rather dull and tedious. I've long been a fan of the movie made back in the nineties and loved dear Jo as she was an aspiring writer like myself. But reading the book was, like nearly always, much better and more gratifying than the movie. It has a sweetness and a loving tone as you are drawn into the life of the March family almost as another silent sister. I adored the simple goodness of the book and it left me feeling comfortable and wanting to be better; a sign of a truly great novel. I am glad that I found this book lying on a shelf in my basement and decided 'why not?' It brought a lot of smiles, much warmth, and determination on my part to be a little better in spite of myself. This book is written especially for girls and I dare say that it would be very enjoyable for mothers and daughters to read aloud together. It was altogether a lovely novel.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

By James Patterson

Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel. Six kids who are pretty normal in most ways- except that they're 98% human, 2% bird. They grew up in a lab, living like rats in cages, but now they're free. Aside, of course, from the fact that they're prime prey for Erasers- wicked, wolflike creatures with a taste for flying humans.
When Angel is kidnapped, the flock takes off to rescue her from the dreaded School. Will Max be able to lead the flock in time to rescue Angel? And what about the fact that they now know how to find their parents, but it takes breaking into a top secret institution in New York City? Come fly with the super-powered crew on the beginning of an adventure that just might end in not just saving Angel...but the world.

I've been meaning to read this book for at least two years now and have finally gotten to it; and I was mildly surprised. There were quite a few points in the book where I had no clue whatsoever was going to happen. I was right there with Max wondering what the heck to do next. It was a fast and fun read, though with definate darker undertones. There is a lot of abuse and some violent scenes with the Erasers that end with some painful wounds and a few gruesome deaths. I read this book with the sense of watching the movie in my mind, so it was very graphic for me. I'd suggest 14 and up. The one thing I enjoyed the most about the writing was the voice that Patterson was able to give to Max as she narrates the story. It's really fun to see her personality leaking through the pages. This is a fun book for teens and I'd suggest it to boys and girls equally; it's action packed, with a female lead character. Although it does have very little depth, and has a gigantic cliffhanger, I find it very soap opera-like at the same time in the fact that drama drives the story more than the characters or even the plot. I will say this for Patterson's jump into writing youth fiction: he can write a page-turner.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

House of Many Ways

By Diana Wynne Jones

Charmain Baker is in over her head. Looking after Great-Uncle William's tiny cottage while he's ill should have been easy. But Great-Uncle William is better known as the Royal Wizard Norland, and his house bends space and time. Its single door leads to nay number of places-the bedrooms, the kitchen, the caves under the mountain, the past, and the Royal Mansion, to name just a few.
By opening that door, Charmain has become responsible for not only the house, but for an extremely magical stray dog, a muddled young apprentice wizard, and a box of the king's most treasured documents. She has encountered a terrifying beast called a lubbock, irritated a clan of small blue creatures, and wound up smack in the middle of an urgent search. The king and his daughter are desperate to find the lost, fabled Elfgift-so desperate that they've even called in an intimidating sorceress named Sophie to help. And where Sophie is, can the Wizard Howl and fire demon Calcifer be far behind?
Of course, with that magical family involved, there's bound to be chaos-and unexpected revelations. No one will be more surprised than Charmain by what Howl and Sophie discover.

This is the third book in the same universe as Howl's Moving Castle; though it can be read on it's own. I heartily enjoyed the other two previous books, but this one I'm sad to say just wasn't as fun. It still is a good book and very entertaining. I got some good hearty laughs out of it, and was extremely amused at some of the things Howl does. But having read many of Diana's books, I just wasn't as enthralled with this one. It never bored me, but it wasn't as exciting to read as her other books. I'm glad I didn't get too excited and buy this one like I usually do; it's fun to have read it, but not a keeper.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Candy Shop War

By Brandon Mull

Welcome to the Sweet Tooth Ice Cream and Candy Shoppe, where the confections are a bit on the...unusual side. Rock candy that makes you weightless. Jawbreakers that make you unbreakable. Chocolate balls that make you a master of disguise.
Four young friends- Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon- meet the grandmotherly Mrs. White, owner of the Sweet Tooth, and soon learn about the magical side effects of her candies.
In addition, the ice cream truck driver, Mr. Stott, has arrived with a few enchanted sweets of his own. But what about the mysterious man in the dark overcoat and fedora hat? Why are all these "magicians" trying to recruit Nate and his friends? Who should they trust?
The mystery deepens and the danger unfolds as the four youngsters discover that the magical strangers have all come to town in search of a legendary, hidden treasure- one that could be used for great evil if it fell into the wrong hands. The kids, now in over their heads, must try to retrieve the treasure first. And so, the war begins...

First I will say that this book really gives a new meaning to the old warning: never take candy from strangers. It was fun to read and very inventive. It has all the marks of the imagination of Brandon Mull (author of the Fablehaven series). There were a few things that bothered me: 1- the book was written from at least seven different perspectives as the plot progressed, but it didn't make it hard to understand, I think it was just deflecting character development. 2- It lacked that spark that I liked so much reading Fablehaven. It seemed, while creative, pretty mainstream. I was able to foretell the events of what would happen with the exception of one or two details at the end. Basically, on a whole, it was a fun book, but it wasn't spectacular. If you like Brandon's other books I'd say read it if you're waiting for the next Fablehaven, but if not, I'd read something more worth your time.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Back at It

Thanks for bearing with me as I read Harry Potter. It was lovely, thank you. Here are a bunch of books that I had read previously (most of them many times), and I will be updating with books I am currently reading as soon as I finish them. I find myself rather swamped because I unknowingly chalked up my que to reading 9 books at once; I tend to lose patience when I get a new book and so I start it right away and then go back to the ones I was reading before once I'm done. But don't worry I once did 13 at a time! Have fun reading!

The Screwtape Letters

By C.S. Lewis

A masterpiece of satire, this classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to "Our Father Below." At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the worldly-wise old devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging and humorous account of temptation-and triumph over it-ever written.

I don't care what religion you are, if you're trying to life a good life, you need to read this book. It is, like the summary said, hilarious yet very thought-provoking. It certainly made me more aware of why I choose to do things for good or ill. It tuned me in to how a Screwtape might be subtly pulling me off the path. At the beginning, it took a while to get used to C.S. Lewis's way of writing. It takes a bit more brain power to stay on track with what is going on, so it is a little hard at first if you're used to easy reading (like youth books). But it definitely makes my list of 'books everyone should read before they die'.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

by Jessica Day George

When a woodcutter's daughter known simply as "the lass" agrees to accompany a great white bear to his castle, she believes she has made a wise decision. After all, the bear has promised her family untold riches in exchange for a year of the lass's company. Although she is given every luxury, the lass feels more a prisoner than a gues, and it's not long before her contentment turns to unease. One by one the servants disappear, and the lass suspects the bear knows more than he's telling. In her quest to learn the truth, the lass unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that take her on a windswept journey beyond the edge of the world, to fight for the man she has only just discovered is her true love.

Based on the Nordic fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and with romantic echoes of Beauty and the Beast, Jessica Day George's spirited retelling will lure readers in and hold them happily spellbound to the last page.

Okay, so I actually bought this book because it was supposedly much like Beauty and the Beast. While it does have some similarities, it is so wonderfully norse that I was tickled to read it. I adore Norse history and mythology and had never come across this story. One thing that hooked me right off the get-go was the fact that the main character doesn't even have a name! Her mother was so sick of having had girls that she didn't even name her and she is simply known as "lass". This book is so fun to read and full of that fairy-tale feel. The only thing that I don't like is the ending feels very rushed to me, and I wish it had been more detailed and drawn out better. But it's the kind of ending I like: happily ever after....and then some!

Burrying Our Swords: How Christ Can Remove Rebellion From Our Hearts

By Kevin Hinckley

Mike and Sherrie Thomas are sick with worry. Their son Kyle has taken a wrong turn, leaving both their home and the gospel.
One day Mike finds a cryptic message on his desk at work, written on yellow paper and folded in half. "Alma 23:7," it said.
Thus Mike begins a deep and thoughtful search of the scriptures-and his own heart- to discover how to retrieve his wayward son. In the process he learns that, like the Anti-Nephi-Lehies in the Book of Mormon, he must bury his own swords of unrighteousness.

An extended parable that's filled with wisdom and insight, Burrying Our Swords: How Christ can Remove Rebellion from Our Hearts helps us understand the value of sacrificing something we view as important for something the Lord views as more important. "In our rush to do things 'our way', we may end up ignoring and running from God's counsel, simply because we're not yet ready to do things 'his way', author Kevin Hinckley writes.
Just as the Anti-Nephi-Lehies buried their swords in a covenant to no longer rebel against God or man, Hinckley teaches us how we, too, can bury the swords of our rebellion- and in the process, find greater peace in our lives and our relationships.

I've loaned this book to quite a few people because I was just awed by the insights I found inside of it that led me to look at my own life and what swords I was lugging around that needed to not only be put down, but burried for good. I think I enjoyed it more because it was just like how Jesus taught (though less through symbols) by telling a story that everyone can relate to. It inspired me to search the scriptures more diligently and truly study them to find messages like the one Mike found in this book. It really changed my perception of things and gave me a beautiful example in the Book of Mormon that I had never seen before and was shocked that I didn't notice it. It's a book that I'm so glad I decided to pick up and read because it has helped me change a lot of things that I needed just a little bit more of a nudge to really change.

The Iron Ring

By Lloyd Alexander

When Tamar, the young king of Sundari, loses a dice game, he loses everything-his kingdom, its riches, and even the right to call his life his own. His bondage is symbolized by the iron ring that appears mysteriously on his finger. To Tamar, born to the warrior caste, honor is everything. So he sets out on a journey to make good on his debt- and even to give up his life if necessary. And he enters into a world where animals talk, spirits abound, and magic is everywhere...

This book is based on the culture of India in all its richness. It was one of my favorites as a kid. I even found a ring and wore it for probably two years because I decided it was my own iron ring and I was off to have adventures like Tamar. This book has everything anyone could want in it: warriors, magic, animals, love, laughs, and many teaching moments. I adore this book and have read it many times over the years. It shows that while honor is everything, caste is really nothing. Tamar's story is akin to a coming of age, but more like a coming to wisdom. At the beginning he is very naive and also extremely proud, but as he comes to the end of his journey and loses everything, he gains everything in the process. It's a beautiful story.