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.