Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ranger's Apprentice 4: The Battle For Skandia

By John Flanagan

Far from home after escaping slavery in Skandia, Will and Evanlyn’s plans to return are spoiled when Evanlyn is taken captive. Will employs his Ranger training to locate his friend, but soon finds himself fatally outnumbered-until Halt and Horace make a daring, last-minute rescue. But their reunion is cut short by the discovery that Skandia’s borders have been breached by the Temujai army-and Araluen is next in their sights. Only an unlikely union can save the two kingdoms, but can it hold long enough to vanquish a ruthless new enemy?

Have I mentioned that I really really love this series? Mr Flanagan, you are a great story-teller! I am captivated with the twists and turns, the military tactics, and the good old fashioned comradery and friendships. Each character is so well developed and just darn likable (or in some cases unlikeable) that it makes me smile and cringe when the plot takes unlikely turns. There were so many laugh-out-loud moments, that I was in a thoroughly good mood when I finished. I’ve enjoyed Skandia- the fictional mirror of Norway and the Vikings. It’s just fun and completely action-packed. I can’t wait to find out what happens next! If you like fiction at all, if you enjoy knights, swords, bows, and spies, you will adore Flanagan’s series. If I had Jedi mind powers I would wave my hands and say, “you will start reading it now, and you will love it as much as I do." :D

Recovering Charles

By Jason F. Wright

Luke Millward is a man who does not know he is lost. His career in Manhattan is going well; he has the love of close friends; and a future that he looks forward to every day. Only when the past revels its twisted smile in a phone call and the disconnected voice asks him to come find his estranged father in a post-Katrina New Orleans is Luke compelled to find out what kind of man he truly is; and who the man is that his father has become.
Luke’s story is one of finding true love and one’s true self. It will resonate with readers long after the last page. Recovering Charles is for every family who has had their share o rough times; for anyone who regrets the things never said; for everyone who needs to know their life has a second verse.

So when I picked this book up at the bargain sales corner I had no idea what it was about. I’d just heard good things and I knew that Jason Wright was a great writer having read The Wednesday Letters. This book is set in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the devastation it caused to the people not only in New Orleans, but along the coast. I remember consciously not watching the news coverage when Katrina hit. It was too much for me at the time and I just didn’t want to know. Reading this book opened my eyes to a lot of the things that happened that I had previously closed my eyes to. Along with the disaster that Katrina brought, is the story of a man who lost his mother to depression and suicide, and his father to alcohol. This book is all about changing and the possibility of recovering from all walks of life we might find ourselves in. It was beautiful, if haunting. I loved Charles song at the end: Love me if you can. It seemed to summarize everything wonderfully for anyone who has ever gotten off the right path and had to struggle to find their way back. Beautiful.

The Girl Who Could Fly

By Victoria Forester

Piper McCloud lives with her normal ma and pa on a normal farm in normal Lowland County. But Piper isn’t your normal girl. Ever since Piper was a baby, she’s been able to hover a few feet off the ground, and if the people of Lowland County knew she could fly, they would have something to say about it. So, it only seems best that Piper be sent away to I.N.S.A.N.E, the top secret school for children with extraordinary abilities like hers. Her new friends have powers like telekinesis, x-ray vision, and the ability to create their own weather. Piper likes her new life at school, but soon, she realizes things aren’t as they seem. Now, the school she was sent to for her own protection might be the most dangerous place she’s ever been.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for months now, and when I glanced it at the local elementary school’s bookfair, I couldn’t resist buying the little paperback. I fell in love with this book. It’s the book for everyone who has ever felt like they were different and had to fight to just be themselves. It’s a sweet story of a farm girl with extraordinary abilities and a fire-cracker personality. There are so many quotable passages in this book; you wouldn’t really expect it, but his story is more than it seems. Piper’s loyal and na├»ve voice is beautiful and poignant. I think everyone should read this book just for it’s simplicity and message underneath. All around, I just can’t say enough how much I loved this story and hope for more from Ms. Forester.

Lemon Tart

By Josi S. Kilpack

A recipe for murder!

5 families living on Peregrine Circle
1 flowered curtain tieback
1 missing child
1 body in the field

Mix with a long list of suspects and top with two very different detectives. Increase heat until only the truth remains.

In this debut volume, cooking aficionado-turned-amateur detective, Sadie Hoffmiller, tries to solve the murder of Anne Lemmon, her beautiful young neighbor-a single mother who was mysteriously killed while a lemon tart was baking in her oven. At the heart of Sadie’s search is Anne’s missing two-year-old son, Trevor. Whoever took the child must be the murderer, but Sadie is certain that the police are looking at all the wrong suspects-including her! Armed with a handful of her very best culinary masterpieces, Sadie is determined to bake her way to proving her innocence, resucing Trevor, and finding out exactly who had a motive for murder.

I hadn’t read a murder mystery in probably oh 5 years when I picked this culinary cozy up. To be honest, I used to be addicted to mysteries, but got really sick of them after a major overdose as a teenager. This book was fun for a mystery, having an older lady as the sleuth. I also really enjoyed the recipes scattered throughout the novel and was actually pretty excited to try a few of them out. As for the story and the mystery, I think lots of mystery lovers would really enjoy this new spin on the genre. There are currently 3 books in this little series; the next being English Trifle, and Devil’s Food. As for me, I didn’t much care for it. That was mostly the result of the depressing nature of murder mysteries because they contain, well, murder among other nasty things that I’d rather not dwell on. To me, mysteries seem to pull out the worst things that humanity is capable of and flaunting them so people think it is ingenious how others pull the wool over their eyes and “get away with it”. Yikes. That’s just my opinion though. If you like mysteries and have no problems with them, then absolutely and definitely read Lemon Tart.

Ranger's Apprentice 3: The Icebound Land

By John Flanagan

Help can arrive from the most unexpected places.

Will and Evanlyn are bound for Skandia as the captives of the fearsome Skandian wolfship captain, Erak. Halt has sworn to rescue Will, and he will do anything to keep his promise—even defy his King. Expelled from the Rangers, Halt is joined by Horace as he travels through Gallica towards Skandia. On their way, they are constantly challenged by freelance knights—otherwise known as thieving thugs. But Horace knows a thing or two about combat, and he soon begins to attract the attention of knights and warlords for miles around with his uncanny skill. But will they be in time to rescue Will from a life of slavery?

Bah! This book just about killed me. I finally got my hands on the 3rd Ranger’s Apprentice series and I honestly was ready to just break down and cry through the whole book. This is the continuation of the story of Will and Evanlyn’s capture on the jarl Erak’s wolfship. They are sold as slaves, and have to rely on each other heavily. While Will makes it his task to keep Evanlyn’s spirits up, when they get to the capital of Skandia, they are both sold as slaves. Evanlyn to the kitchen, and Will to the frozen yard…where no boy has yet survived long. Without giving anything away, this book was absolutely wonderful. This series is fast becoming a favorite. If you haven’t read it, pick it up and I guarantee you will become as addicted as I have!

God Wants a Powerful People

By Sheri Dew

“In this great latter-day battle, the Lord needs every true follower to step forward-in every part of His kingdom-to draw upon and use every gift we’ve been given. There isn’t a week, a day, an hour to lose.”

Sheri Dew’s book is all about becoming a better and more powerful people; with chapters ranging from drawing upon heaven’s power, to the difference between making a mistake and committing a sin. This book has a well deserved title. It is powerful. I’ve always enjoyed reading her books simply because she is so down-to-earth and explains things plainly. She uses scriptures freely and points out all the time that we mortals aren’t perfect and never will be in this life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be a powerful force for good on this earth while we’re here. To me, the best part of this book was the last chapter about becoming a true follower of Jesus Christ. If you’ve read Sheri’s other books, you’re sure to like this one.

Pendragon 10: The Soldiers of Halla

By D.J. MacHale

It has all been leading to this. Every victory. Every loss. All the thrills and sadness; the hope and despair. Bobby Pendragon’s heart-pounding journey through time and space has brought him to this epic moment. He and his fellow Travelers must join forces for one last desperate battle against Saint Dane. At stake is not only the tenth and final territory, but all that ever was or will be. Everywhere.

This is the war for Halla.

Every question is answered. Every truth is revealed.

The final battle has begun.

I finally know it all. The mystery of the travelers, and the secrets of the universe that is the Pendgragon books. I was surprised to find that you find out pretty much everything within the first 60 pages or so. You know everything, except how it will all turn out. And I also admit, I’m still slightly confused at the mechanics of the ending (Which was happy). Wow. Longest series I’ve ever read; interesting, but not good enough to own in my opinion. If you find it in the library and like world-hopping adventures, go ahead and read Bobby’s journals. All in all, I give it a 6/10.

Pendragon 9: Raven Rise

By D.J. MacHale

This is where it begins. The showdown for Halla. At stake is nothing less than all that ever was and all that will be.

There's only one thing missing--Bobby Pendragon.

While Bobby remains trapped on Ibara, the battle moves to his home territory: Second Earth. Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde are left on their own to defend Second Earth against the forces of Saint Dane. They must face off against a charismatic cult leader who has risen to power by revealing a shattering truth to the people of Earth: They are not alone.

The Convergence has broken down the walls. The territories are on a collision course. The final phase of Saint Dane's quest to rule Halla is under way.

And Bobby Pendragon is nowhere to be found.

It’s all coming to a head…finally. This book takes place on second earth and is surprisingly dark. Everything is falling apart for Bobby and the other travelers. But finally, finally we get some answers. I admit, I’ve gotten so attached to the characters, Bobby especially that at the end of this book I got a little teary. This is the penultimate Pendragon, the beginning of the end. Last book here I come!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pendragon 8: The Pilgrims of Rayne

By D.J. MacHale

When Bobby Pendragon first arrives on the tropical world of Ibara, he finds paradise. As he works to uncover clues about the turning point this seemingly idyllic territory will soon face, all he can determine is that the people of Ibara are blissfully happy. It's not long before Bobby discovers, however, that they are also blissfully...oblivious.
The leaders of Ibara are keeping a devastating secret from their people, one that gives Saint Dane all the opportunity he needs to launch his final assault on Halla.
While Bobby struggles to learn the truth in time to thwart Saint Dane, Courtney Chetwynde desperately searches for Mark Diamond. On the heels of a shocking tragedy, Mark has disappeared. Worse, he seems to be under Saint Dane's influence. It's up to Courtney to find Mark and stop him from making a grave mistake that could change the future of all existence.

This book was by far the most frusterating to read of all the books so far. I was so incredibly mad at Bobby that with only 60 pages left I just had to put it away. I was thinking in my head, "ha! This'll show you, I just won't read about it!" That lasted about half a day until I was able to calm down enough to finish it. I honestly haven't gotten that worked up over fiction in a long while. I got to the point where I looked forward to getting away from Bobby's journals to read about what Courtney was doing to find the missing Mark. Bobby was just ticking me off. It was one of those instances where I was yelling at him in my head, "No you doofus! That's the completely wrong thing to do!" At least the book is going somewhere. I hope. Gah!

Pendragon 7: The Quillan Games

By D.J. MacHale

There are a lot of words that describe Quillan. Amusement park…fantasy land…fun house…nightmare. This is a territory that revolves around games. All kinds of games.
The pawns in the games are the people of Quillan. The games they play range from simple physical battles with cross-staves to speed-vehicle races over impossible obstacle courses to computer-driven fantasy games where the players are thrown into virtual reality worlds full of peril and excitement. For the poor players, you either win or you die.
This is the chaos that Bobby finds on Quillan. But Bobby also discovers another aspect of being Lead Traveler that puts him in mortal danger here: he can't kill. It's physically impossible. So Bobby must find another way to win or he won't survive.

Quillan is officially the freakiest place on earth....I mean Halla. It was just insane to read about this place. I swear that D.J. MacHale tries to come up with more and more twisted places as this series plays out. This whole story felt like Bobby was being strung along. I do admit though, it was quite funny (sort of) when Bobby has to stay in this clown room and practically yells in refusal. He classifies people like this: There are those that think clowns are freaky and...clowns. I thought it was hilarious because I myself hate clowns and they creep me out. I love how while all the horrible stuff is happening to Bobby, he finds these mundane little things to over-react about to ground himself. It's very...human. Let's just say the battle on Quillan was depressing, and while finding more answers about the travelers, all it does is provide more questions along with them. Touche MacHale. Touche.

Pendragon 6: The Rivers of Zadaa

By D.J. MacHale

The fight has moved to Zadaa, the home territory of Loor, the Ghee warrior and traveler that helped Bobby to stop Saint Dane on Denduron. Tension has reached ultimate levels on Zadaa between the warrior Batu tribe and the intelectual Rokadors; the fight stems from water. From all points of view it seems like the Rokador, who have controlled the flow of the underground rivers of Zadaa for centuries, are withholding the water from the Batu. The Batu are in a famine because of it, and ready to attack their once alies the Rokador. It's the first simple and straightforward plot Saint Dane has thrown at Bobby, or is it?

As the fight continues Bobby begins to see that he is changing. He's not the carefree kid he once was. Bobby is finding that the travelers themselves are far from ordinary in more ways than one. And in one desperate act Bobby finds that the travelers have an extraordinary power...the power of life and death.

Loor is a pretty cool character. And this is the book where it's her show. The desert planet of Zadaa is a savage place, except for Loor's home of Xhaxhu (don't ask me how to pronounce it!). This book you really see Bobby grow up a lot. In fact, it started in the last book, but the fight on Zadaa really shows how much he's changed. He learns how to fight after Saint Dane beats the crap out of him, and he really is starting to get the hang of being the lead traveler. But so many questions arise in this book. Who are the travelers really? Why can only they travel to different territories using the flumes? Don't ask me, I'm still waiting to figure it out...which is why I am still reading and hooked on every word. This just gets more and more entertaining as it builds to the ultimate climax. 10 books for 10 territories. I just hope I can make it until I finally figure out all the answers!

Pendragon 5: Black Water

By D.J. MacHale

Where is Gunny? That is the question Bobby asks as he travels to Eelong, the next territory on Saint Dane's list. What he finds is Paradise. Really. A lush beautiful jungle. But, like most cases Bobby has faced so far, this place is far from Paradise. Beautiful, yes, but also deadly. And worse...the inhabitants of Eelong are very different. Bobby is horrified to find that the humans of this planet are treated like dumb animals; in fact they are dumb animals. Bobby is the only intellegent human on Eelong, and Eelong's only hope. Will the locals ever listen to what they consider a stupid animal? Will Bobby ever find Gunny?

Eelong was the first territory where I got sick when I read what was happening. A bit surreal of a situation with the fantastical inhabitants (which I won't reveal exactly who they are). It was the first time that even I started to question if Bobby was cut out for this and if he would make it. And his friends, Mark and Courtney, they play a huge role in this one. It was, as usual, action packed and clipped along. Saint Dane is getting stronger, and Bobby is full of doubts. I admit, I'm getting anxious to see exactly where everything is leading, and find out about the mystifying and slightly annoying hints that Saint Dane drops whenever he and Bobby have a conversation. I'm sure Bobby feels the same way! If you haven't started reading these books and you enjoy fantasy/science fiction you should give them a try. As Spader would say, Hobey-ho lets go!

Pendragon 4: The Reality Bug

By D.J. MacHale

Veelox. A territory far more advanced than any society Bobby has ever seen...including the future of second earth, the present time for Bobby. It's a place that has reached paradisical harmony, or so says Aja Killian, the traveler from Veelox. What Bobby discovers is something far from paradise. He finds a society on the brink of crumbling into non-existance, and Saint Dane has bragged that Veelox is already his and there is nothing Bobby or Aja can do to save it. But Aja has a plan to save her planet, and it's called The Reality Bug. Will Aja's plan work, or has Bobby and the traveler's luck finally run out? And what has happened to Gunny, who followed Saint Dane to a territory called Eelong? He was supposed to come right back, but has yet to return...

Okay, now the series is getting completely heavy. Bobby faces a challenge different from anything he's faced so far. There is no war to fight, at least not a physical one. This one's all in his head...literally. The machine that was invented on Veelox called Lifelight has taken each of the citizens of Veelox into their own perfect existance, a place that only resides in their minds, a place so real that no one wants to leave. This book had the biggest feel of science fiction to it, and was kinda disturbing in the ideas it portrayed about people. It was crazy good though and left me wanting, as usual, more more more! If I wasn't interested before, I am now stuck for good with Bobby and the travelers in the battle for Halla.

Pendragon 3: The Never War

By D.J. MacHale

Bobby and Spader have now followed Saint Dane to First Earth-the past. 1937 to be exact. Bobby and Spader soon are swooped up in the gang wars of 1937 New York, and right in the middle of a turf war between the two top honchos. They meet Vincent "Gunny" Van Dyke, the traveler from First Earth, and go undercover as bellhops at the Manhatten Tower Hotel where Gunny works. It's action packed and full of unexpected twists. And where has Saint Dane gone to? He could be anyone, and while Bobby tries to take the lead he has to deal with Spader's quest for revenge. Will they stop the catastrophe in time, or is there something even more important and sinester going on? Find out in Pendragon 3: The Never War!

This book was interesting, because unlike the previous two books in the series, it happens in an actual place. Also, unlike the other books, you start to see that this series doesn't follow a set plot line. There are lots of things that happen that surprised me and made me feel like this series had a depth to it that I hadn't before felt. Bobby has to face the consequences of his choices, and it haunts him. He realizes that there may not be room for mistakes when Halla (everything that is or ever was or could be) is at stake. This book launches the more serious side of the series and was just as addicting as the others.

Pendragon 2: The Lost City of Faar

By D.J. MacHale

Bobby and Uncle Press are headed once more into the flumes to follow the tracks of the evil demon Saint Dane. Bobby is still mystified at learning he is a traveler, and what that actually means. But with Uncle Press to lead the way, Bobby feels he is getting more used to his new life, and he finds himself on the territory of Cloral. Cloral is a world covered in water, the people live on floating islands and have learned to thrive off of the water. What is the turning point for Cloral and why is Saint Dane here? Bobby finds that he is actually enjoying himself on Cloral, until terrible news finds its way to Bobby and Press. Everyone on an entire island has mysteriously died, and seemingly without warning. It’s up to Bobby, Press, and the Cloran traveler, Spader, to figure out what’s going on and to stop Saint Dane before he murders an entire world.

Finally! I got the second book from the library and sped through it within a day, and enjoyed every minute. It’s official. I’m hooked. Bobby’s adventure is fun, exciting, nerve wracking, and a complete mystery. I adore the story, which is original, and witty. I can’t wait to find out what the travelers really are and what they are doing. MacHale is able to write about multiple different worlds and not leave the reader confused. They are easily recognizable, but different enough to be thought of as a completely new place. I am heartily enjoying this series!

A Kiss in Time

By Alex Flinn

Talia fell under a spell . . . . Jack broke the curse.

I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic. . . .

I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.

I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger's soft kiss.

I couldn't help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn't know this would happen.

Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!
Now I'm stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels. . . . The good news: My parents will freak!

Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time?

This is a cute retelling of sleeping beauty with a modern twist. Jack is just a normal guy. When he finds a girl asleep and can’t wake her up he figures, what’s the harm of kissing her? He finds out really fast when she wakes up and becomes a princess sized pain in the butt. While Talia can be a total pain, she also teaches Jack a lot about himself and what he really wants. This is a cute story about real life and true love, and growing up. There are some moments in the book that don’t hide the nasty side of life. I admit I was blushing, though in all fairness, it doesn’t take much. Let’s just say that there are scenes involving drinking, drugs, and Talia finds out that all guys aren’t really gentlemen. So, read at your own discretion. All around though, I thought it was fun

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lots Coming I Promise!

I know, I'm a slacker. I've got a list of about 20 books that I'll be putting on probably this saturday. I've had a hard time getting to a computer with internet, so I'll probably be putting things up in sections. I really have a huge list to go through. Should be great so hang in there!