Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

By James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

“The Greatest Superpower…is the power to create.” Daniel is not your average ordinary teenager. He remembers the night that his parents were brutally murdered by the worst alien in the galaxy. So now Daniel has taken up the mantle his parents left behind: he has become an Alien Hunter; even though he happens to be one himself. Along with the aid of his best friends, he goes in fists flying to destroy number 6 on the infamous list of Dangerous Aliens, and ends up in the fight of his life…literally.

Okay, this was surprisingly fun to read, and I could not tell what was going to happen next. It was thoroughly entertaining, and it makes me want to pick up others of Patterson’s books. Daniel is quite easy to relate to, even if he does hunt aliens for a living. One of the coolest parts of his powers is his power to create things that aren’t truly there. He gives a life to his own imagination. And the trip you take with Daniel is one you’ll never forget. This was a book I picked up at Wal-Mart for six bucks, and I’m really glad I did. It was great, and I can’t wait for the follow-up books to Daniel’s life!

Fun Fact: James Patterson is the Bestselling author of Maximum Ride, which I have been meaning to read forever, but the first book is never in the library or in the stores. If this book is any indication, I know why he is a bestseller. And he’s clean! Hallelujah!


By Cameron Dokey

Certain that she has the wrong name, as she lacks the beauty of her two sisters, Belle dedicates her time to woodcarving and withdraws from society. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree, for if carved by the right hands, it will reveal one’s true love. During a strange storm, Belle’s father is lost and comes upon the Heartwood Tree, and upon a horrible beast. Now, Belle must carve the Heartwood tree at the Beast’s command, to save her father and to learn to see not with the eyes of her mind, but the eyes of her heart.

As far as fairy-tales turned into novels go, this one was a little disappointing, especially since it was about Beauty and the Beast, my favorite. It was a little drab to read, even though I had high hopes and pushed through to the end, which was far too quick to enjoy. The book focuses a lot on Belle’s feelings, but not enough on the romantic parts at the end of the book with the Beast. I adore other of Cameron Dokey’s books, but this one was a let-down. But to be fair, I expected something spectacular and I have read many adaptations of Beauty and the Beast.

Interesting Info: Cameron Dokey has written many adaptations of fairy tales, famous and less-known. Golden was my favorite, an adaptation of Rapunzel. And Beauty Sleep was also very fun to read, the retelling of Sleeping Beauty.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pendragon: The Merchant of Death

By D.J. MacHale

Bobby Pendragon is as normal as a 14 year old boy can get; a nice family, living in the suburbs, an annoying sister, a dog, and (hopefully) his first girlfriend. The only anomaly is the rare visits from his Uncle Press, who Bobby considers the best Uncle a kid can have, showering him with presents and good advice. When Uncle Press shows up right before the big basketball county finals to ask Bobby to help him, how can Bobby refuse? How could Bobby have known that following his Uncle would lead him to a doorway to another dimension, where the people live like they are in the middle-ages? But there are many more problems than Bobby thinks as he struggles to find a way to help the people of Denduron and find his way back home.

Yes, I started another series. I should smack myself for getting into this one, but it was quite fun to read. This wasn’t the average series. Bobby wasn’t what I expected in a ‘hero’ of the story. He really struggled with deciding to help the people, and he was pretty stinking scared to do it. I enjoyed the very real problems and how Bobby (eventually) solves some of them. Instead of the whole, “I was scared, but I knew what I had to do,” kind of stuff, he was saying, “I started to cry and I wanted to go home, and I seriously might’ve wet myself.” It made me laugh, although it took me a while to adjust to his very honest way of saying things. Although there is a warning for this book: there is language. Bobby has a little bit of a potty mouth. It’s nothing like Jack Ryan from Clancy or anything, just here and there. It was the one thing that consistently bothered me. Otherwise, it was entertaining, and different as a series book, and it makes you think about how we treat each other as human beings, among other things. It was a good read and well written in the perspective of a 14-year-old boy.

Fun fact: This series has 8 books so far, so if you don’t want to get into that, it’s fine. I was a little reluctant myself. And trust me, MacHale leaves the ending with just enough to hook you into reading the next book. That’s going to be my first stop on Monday after work. Book 2….here we go!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Slathbog's Gold

By M.L. Forman

“Adventurer’s Wanted. Apply Within” reads the sign hanging in the small bookshop window, but strangely enough, Alex Taylor seems to be the only one who can see it. Seeking some change in his life, the sign seemed like an answer to his plea. As Alex enters the shop, his life indeed is changed forever as he is whisked off to an entirely different land where warriors, elves, and dwarves thrive. Finding himself the eighth man on an adventure to recover a legendary treasure in the horde of Slathbog the Red, an evil dragon, Alex ends up battling trolls and bandits, seeking advice from The Oracle, and facing wraiths. But most importantly Alex finds himself learning about honor, integrity, courage, and friendship.

Fun, fun, fun. That is what I have to say about this book. Honest to goodness, I thought I wouldn’t like it, but I own it now! It was fun to read, sort-of as a simplified version of life in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Except very different, no hobbits in this I’m afraid! It’s fast-paced, fun to read, and has a great adventure and companions to learn about. And dare I say, many a fun thing to learn about Alex, who for good reason was the only one who could see the sign in the shop window! The only down-side that I’ve heard about it, (it didn’t bother me) is the language they use when Alex goes adventuring. It’s very polite and proper, and it can grate on some people’s nerves. I enjoyed it, thought it was fun. But to each his own! The only thing that really bugged me was the amount of times that Alex says, “I suppose.” That got annoying for me, but no one else seems to notice. Oh well. Try it anyway!

Interesting Info: Forman’s next book in the series is scheduled to come out in spring of 2010, called The Horn of Moran. Should be exciting!

The Goose Girl

By Shannon Hale

Crown Princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee was not what her mother wanted. Instead of flattering people, she spent her time learning how to talk to the swans, and listening to her Aunt’s stories about the languages of the animals. Ani has a gift, but a gift that many distrust and hate; including her mother. So her mother decides for the good of the kingdom to send Ani away to marry a complete stranger and be queen of a different kingdom entirely. Ani is crushed but knows her duty, and so travels to Bayern, where she starts on the greatest adventure of her life; where she learns who she is and where a person’s true strength lies.

The Goose Girl is one of my all-time favorite books for young adults. It struck true with me mostly because Ani is the most like me of any character I have ever read about. I harmonized with everything she thought and felt and it was like having constant déjà-vu. Following her quest to be both herself and a respectable princess was amazing and delightful. As she finds her strengths and weaknesses, as she falls in love for the first time, and as she makes the first true friends she has ever had, I was right there laughing and crying and cheering her on. Shannon Hale is one of my favorite authors, as I have read all but one of her books and they are all excellent! The Goose Girl is definitely worth your time.

Fun Fact: The Goose Girl is based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grim, which Hale has masterfully written in a whole new world and context. If you like fairy-tale adaptations, this is the best one I’ve read by far.

Interesting Info: The story of Ani and the people of Bayern continues in Enna Burning, and River Secrets. While these two tales are told from different characters, they are still quite good and entertaining to read as you find out what happens to the characters you come to know in The Goose Girl.


By Cornelia Funke

Meggie Folchart is happy to be with Mo, her father, and to help him travel around fixing books. Mortimer Folchart is an expert bookbinder and avid reader, a trait his daughter inherited. One day, a mysterious man shows up outside of the window at their home. With him, he brings news that obviously displeases Mo, who decides to immediately remove himself and Meggie to her Aunt Elinor’s house in the south. As Meggie tries to weedle the information out of Mo, she slowly begins to un-ravel the tale of her mother’s disappearance and her father’s unusual gift. When Mo is kidnapped for his gift, Meggie will stop at nothing to follow him and get him back. But only when she finds him does she realize the gift her father has, has become his greatest curse. For Mo, who can read aloud so beautifully, so deftly, and magically, the world of literature has become quite real as he literally brings the characters to life out of a fateful book called, Inkheart.

This book was really a slower read for me for its genre. But I was not disappointed in the time I spent reading its four-hundred plus pages. As someone who loves to both read and write, this book delighted and entranced me. My absolute favorite character is Mo, whom is the epitome of everything I love; bookbinder, reader, loving father and husband, gentle, kind, and brave. I adore everything about this book. It brings to life every thought, dream, and idea of the dedicated bookworm between its pages. In all actuality I wasn’t sure that I liked it until the day after I finished it, and when I couldn’t stop thinking about it or the characters or the thoughts and ideas inside it, I got more and more excited and knew that I had loved it. This doesn’t happen often, I usually know long before I finish a book if I will like it well enough to own it or read it again. So as Elinor would say, “By all the letters in the alphabet”, you had better read this book!

Fun Facts: Cornelia Funke is a German writer, whom we are fortunate enough to get translations of her books. Inkheart is the first of her trilogy. Inkspell and Inkdeath are the other two books in the series, the last of which is only very recently out in stores.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

However Long and Hard the Road

By Jeffery R. Holland

“It is difficult to make a man miserable while that man feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.” Often in our most difficult times the only thing we can do is endure. We may have no idea what the final cost in suffering or sacrifice may be, but we can vow never to give up. In doing so we will learn that there is no worthy task so great nor burden so heavy that will not yield to our perseverance. We can make it…however long and hard the road.
Elder Holland tells how others have overcome temptations and feelings of inadequacy and, through repentance, have obtained forgiveness and strength- and how we too may find success in our searchings.

I haven’t read too many books by the general authorities and apostles, and what I have read is sometimes difficult to understand, though it has much to offer. Elder Holland is different in this respect. He does not mince words, and he writes in a way where all can understand. This book had so many treasures in it, with so much to offer those who struggle with living this earthly life. Whatever may be your affliction, trial, or challenge, Elder Holland gives many examples from the scriptures, modern literature, and his own experiences, to help us find the way to God despite all that may cause us pain or doubt. Everyone who would read this book thoughtfully will come out the better for it if they put into practice the hope-filled messages contained in this book.

Interesting info: Elder Holland has also written: Christ and the New Covenant, Of Souls Symbols and Sacraments, and Broken Things to Mend.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Legend of the Jewel

By N.C. Allen

Isabelle Webb is a spy. One of the few female spies in the United States in 1865. After the assassination of President Lincoln, Isabelle is pained with her failure to a man she knew and loved. Taking a much needed holiday to exotic India, Isabelle and her young Ward Sally Rhodes meet James Ashby, who is looking for his brother who is caught up in a search for an ancient Jewel. Isabelle and Sally form a friendship with James and they offer to help him find his lost brother. In the process things spiral out of control, and the search becomes a deadly one. And not only that, but she finds that she is looking at James quite more than she should…will their ending be happy, or entirely too short?

This book was given to me for Christmas, and I just finished it today. It was interesting enough, and a very quick read, and fast-paced. I found it lacking in many ways, one of which was the caliber of the writing, which seemed a little novice and perhaps was published a little too soon. For a mystery it was fairly obvious. I wanted more of the gospel in it, versus the few references to James being Mormon and the mention of praying. I did however enjoy the romantic parts of it, though they were very cheesy. But I like cheese! The characters were good, but I found a little too much contradiction and not enough depth to many of them. To be honest (sorry Emma) I didn’t much care for this book. But since it is a series, I suppose it has the potential to get better. It left a little too much open-ended for my tastes. Oh, well, it was fun enough to read.

FYI: N.C. Allen wrote the Faith of Our Fathers series, so if you have read them and liked them, you may enjoy this book and its series. (I have not read them so I can't say one way or the other.)

The Hollow Kingdom

By Clare Dunkle

Kate and Emily have just moved to Hallow Hill, after the death of their father, to be with their only relatives. Kate is a reputable beauty, though she doesn’t seem to believe it, and also very intelligent. Young Emily is the bolder of the two, with a curiosity and tactlessness that often makes Kate blush. The two sisters are settling in as well as can be expected, but one day during a jaunt into the woods they become lost and wander into a camp of gypsies. But Kate finds out there is something foul afoot. After one, Marak, guides them home, Kate discovers to her horror that he is not even human. And Marak is not done with her yet. Because he is determined to take Kate as his stolen bride. Will Kate be able to escape this horrible fate, to be trapped in marriage with a monster? Things are not what they seem, as trouble looms from more than the hideous goblin Marak…

Clare Dunkle has a way with making old lore and legend into a fantastic story. This is one of my favorite stories that I just happened upon in the library. I have read my fair share of fantasy and fairy tale, but I have never read a story about goblins. This is such a fun read, and reminds me a little of Beauty and the Beast…though don’t expect the same kind of happily ever after ending. Dunkle has a unique writing style that subtly wraps you into her world of Elves, Goblins, and magic. With some darker undertones, I would suggest a little caution if you, like me, are prone to take on the emotion of a book as you read. It can be a little depressing. But otherwise, a great read and very entertaining.

Interesting Info: The Hollow Kingdom is the first in a set of three, but can stand alone by itself, as can the other two books in the series. I liked this because it gave me the freedom to decide if I wanted more or just wanted to stop. The other two books are: Close Kin, and In the Coils of the Snake.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Tapestry: The Hound of Rowan

By Henry H. Neff

Max McDaniels is your average kid. Living in the suburbs of Chicago, he goes to school, draws, and is embarrassed by, but also loves, his adoring salesman-father. On the anniversary of the disappearance of his mother, Max and his father visit her favorite museum. While there, Max discovers a Celtic tapestry depicting the famous Cattle Raid of Cooley. Weird thing is: he’s the only one that could see it. Suddenly strange people are interested in Max and he is whisked away to Rowan Academy, a place where there are fantastic creatures and rigorous training for the special abilities that are growing inside of him. When other children from around the world begin disappearing, Max is thrown into the fray and along with his genius roommate; they begin the fight in the ancient battle of good vs. evil.

I love this book. Now I’ll be the first to say that it reminded me a ton of Harry Potter, but it was also magically different in so many ways. I loved the creatures, the history, and the people in this book. Bob the Ogre is one of my favorite characters, a reformed ogre who is a great chef! Not to mention Mum, the reformed hag, who sniffs the kids so she’ll know they aren’t an afternoon snack. These are only two of the many memorable characters in this entertaining story filled with the struggles of good vs. evil and dark vs. light. Anyone who loved the world of Harry Potter needs to pick up this remarkable book, and enter the world of Rowan academy. I guarantee you’ll love it as much as I do.

Fun facts: The Tapestry series is actually a trilogy, and the second book is out with the third on the way. Henry Neff also illustrates his books, which you will see when you read at every chapter heading (and a few in-between) in a beautiful black-and-white ink

The Tapestry 2: The Second Siege

By Henry H. Neff

In the second installment of the Tapestry trilogy, Max and David are on a desperate quest to obtain the Book of Thoth; a book that is the key to creating-or unraveling- the very threads of existence, before Astaroth, the evil demon. Everything in the world outside of Rowan is darkening. Max and David visit the renowned Frankfurt Workshop, travel through the Black Forest, and even through the veils of this very world.

Fasten your seatbelts…this is incredibly different from the first book, which had a lighter tone. In this book Henry Neff takes his characters to a whole new level and challenges them to the brink of their own unraveling. You will question everyone and everything. And you will be begging for more. Generally I can predict how a story and plot will play out, but this had me completely floundering, with an ending that I never would’ve expected. Besides being highly entertaining, and beautifully written, this book has substance…which is a must for any literature that I end up loving. Wow. Just, wow.

Wahoo! My first contact! From Henry Neff himself!

Dear Staci,

"...Your in good company when it comes to your affection for Bob. My sister has implored me to treat him well while the foreign rights director at Random House (my publisher) has a little sketch of him in her office (she enjoys his quiet air of calm moral authority). He's a fun character and I can promise that you'll be seeing lots of Bob in Book Three.

Speaking of Book Three, I'm working on it now. It's a more complex, challenging story to write, but I think it promises to be the best book yet. To pique your interest, here are a few teasers:

1. A major character will die
2. A major character will become a vye
3. A male selkie will arrive at Rowan (what will Frigga and Helga do?!?)
4. The kitchen will be overrun with haglings
5. Rowan will seriously consider whether to banish David Menlo (!)

There will also be a new website (to replace the unequivocally sorry creation now out there) up very soon. You'll be able to find it at the new website: www.henryhneff.com..."

Warm wishes,
Henry Neff

(WAAA!!!! I was so excited. I did omit a few things that were more tailored toward my letter to him, but most of it is there. By the way, did anyone else notice he used the wrong ‘your’? It made me smile. ^_^ )

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins

Warning: This book is not a stand-alone. It has a sequel; just in case you don’t want to start another series. (I know you are reading at least one!)

Panem is the country of a place once called North America. There are 12 districts in this country, all controlled by The Capital. Not only are the peoples of the districts starving, and mistreated, but for a rebellion many years ago they are forced to compete in the annual Hunger Games. The Games are an event where one boy and one girl from each of the districts is chosen to go to the Capital and compete in a ‘game’ where the winner is decided after they or someone else has killed everyone competing. When Katniss Evergreen’s 12 year old sister is chosen, she volunteers to take her place, and save her life. Katniss promises her sister that she will do everything she can to win, though she feels that it is a death-sentence. Will Katniss be able to kill to survive? What happens when she defies the games? Find out when you read the chilling story of the Hunger Games.

Holy fire and brimstone. I haven’t been this enthralled with a book in ages. I mean, whoa, who tackles a story like this one? Brutal, compassionate, and full of human errors and strengths, this story packs one heck of a wallop to the emotions of the reader. I was reminded greatly of Lois Lowry’s The Giver while reading this book. Katniss was hard to relate to, as I had never been hungry, or had to hunt to survive. But she is a strong character and worthy of being the main attraction of the book, along with memorable characters like Rue, Cinna, Haymitch, and Peeta. Collins did a masterful job in handling the scenes that I was worried would be gory and make me nauseous. She gets the point across beautifully and didn’t shock me with excessive detail. My mark of a great book is one in which I am terribly conflicted and right there with the characters or against them, wanting them to do one thing or another. It’s like you’re a little kid again watching a show in the theater screaming, “RUN, IT”S BEHIND YOU!!!!!” I loved it and will read it again and again and again……

Fun Info: The sequel to Hunger Games is coming out in September, called Catching Fire.

Fablehaven 3 Curse of the Shadow Plague

By Brandon Mull

Disclaimer: For heaven’s sake don’t read this if you haven’t read the other two books and don’t want spoilers!

Kendra and Seth are in store for another adventure in the 3rd installment of the Fablehaven fantasy series. A mysterious change has come over Fablehaven, turning many of the creatures of light into dark shadowy beings. The Sorenson family and friends, Tanu, Coulter, Dale, and Warren, must find out what is happening before Fablehaven collapses from the inside out. And what of the Sphinx? Who was the man that he took from the quiet box, is he a friend or enemy? Will they be able to save Fablehaven, or will they have to find refuge somewhere else? Help abounds from surprising sources, and old friends return in this epic continuing adventure.

Brandon Mull impresses me with every new book he writes in this series. Unlike many series authors, his books keep getting better and better. This book was a page-turner, and got me laughing, nearly crying, (it takes a lot to get me teary) and gripping the book pretty hard in suspense. I read it in a little more than 24 hours and it was just fun. And I have a new favorite character! I won’t say who though, or I’d ruin the whole thing. The zombies were fun to read about, and the dragons, demons, and other creatures that had a lesser stake in the last two books. We get a little romance starting in this one, and Seth might actually be maturing a little. And gasp…there is a main character death. Is that enough to get you interested? If you are still wondering whether to read this one, pick it up-right now. Read it-right now. I’m using my mind control on you. Scary isn’t it?

Fun facts: The 4th book comes out on March 24 (this Tuesday). And, drum roll please, Avi Arad has bought the rights to Fablehaven and is planning on making a movie! Let’s hope that 1: he does as good a job as he usually does, and 2: he actually makes the movie this time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Hello, my name is Staci, and I have a problem.

I love to read,

I can't stop,

And I never will!

Now for the disclaimer. This blog is for my own particular amusement and entertainment, and if it happens to tickle anyone else's fancy, then I shall scream a high-pitched scream and dance a victory dance.
I shall try over the next while to list all of the books I have read, and slowly I shall also include a summary of their individual contents and my own little opinion about them.

One other goal I have is to contact authors of the books that I particularly enjoyed and hopefully place interviews/replies I have received from them on this blog. I already contacted Henry Neff, the author of The Tapestry trilogy, and received a reply yesterday in which he shared some teasers from the last book in the series and some very kind responses to my adulations for his creations. Ok, I admit, I screamed in pleasure when I saw he answered my e-mail!

So, here's hoping that this blog will get up and running in no time....with many followers in the future!