Friday, November 19, 2010

Off-topic Harry Potter

So, question: Has anybody seen Harry Potter 7 yet? I need input as to whether I need to see it. I've been hearing the rumors of nudity and such and am wondering if they are exagerated. Once anybody goes to see it, I would appreciate some feedback as to what the claim of nudity means. I was a little nervous about them ruining the whole book for me with one scene...


By Cornelia Funke

Beyond the mirror, the darkest fairy tales come alive….
For years, Jacob Reckless has enjoyed the Mirrorworld’s secrets and treasures.
Not anymore.
His younger brother has followed him.
Now dark magic will turn the boy to beast, break the heart of the girl he loves, and destroy everything Jacob holds most dear…
Unless he can find a way to stop it.
If you’re looking for happily ever after, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Okay, so look at the cover and read the last line of the summary. What does this suggest? Perhaps a less-than-happy story? You're right. I went against my better judgement and read this book because I heartily enjoyed the Inkheart trilogy and The Theif Lord by Funke, but this one had a bit too many dark tones for my tastes. It left me feeling icky. This book is about Jacob Reckless, a boy who has lost his father in the mirror world- a world that is strangely reminiscent of Grimm's fairy tales...extra Grimm. The whole premise of the book is Jacob's journey to try and save his brother Will from a curse that will turn him into a ruthless monster- nothing like the gentle loving soul he truly is. There is language and also blatant suggestion to immorality on Jacob's part which rankled me. There certainly was no happily ever after. In fact, I wondered what the point was at all. I definately don't reccommend it, even though I will say that it was superbly written and page-turner that lots of people will enjoy. Just a little too depressing and well....Grim.

He Took My Lickin' For Me

By Timothy Robinson

Rambunctious boys make rules for stealing, and one boy takes the punishment for another.

I had this story read aloud to me in Young Womens and remember getting teary. This is another special story that everyone will love. It's about love and mercy and forgiveness. Christians will especially resonate with the story and its parallels to what Jesus Chrsit has done for each of us.

The Secret of the King

By Rachel Ann Nunes

Two medieval children long to become knights in the king’s army, but they learn that they can be just as valuable doing other things.

This was a special story. I'm not sure why, but it really hit me. The plot is great and the story wonderful with knights, kings, and young kids who dream of serving a larger purpose. The illustrations add even more depth to the story and are beautiful to look at. I was amazed at the detail that went into this picture book's illustrations. This is a wonderful story, pick it up if you want to be inspired and feel those ever so wonderful warm fuzzies.

The Siege: Book 4

By Kathryn Lasky

Tensions erupt in the owl kingdom when the forces of evil wage war against the protectors of good. Enraged by his clash with Soren and driven by an all-consuming desire for power, Kludd and his group, the Pure Ones, launch an attack upon the Great Ga’Hoole Tree. The noble owls who live there must fight fiercely to protect their resources and defend their honor.
Meanwhile, Soren is called upon by the elders of the great tree to lead a mission back to the one place he thought he’d never see again – St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. He and his crew will have to enter St. Aggie’s as spies, then leave unnoticed once their work is done. Soren escaped the rocky confines of St. Aggie’s once. If peace is to be restored, he must do it again.

Okay, things are starting to get interesting in the series and the story plot thickens as Soren clashes with the owls of St. Aggies and also worries about his brother Kludd and his treachery against owlkind.

Gregor and the Marks of Secret

By Suzanne Collins

It's only a few months since Gregor and Boots returned from the Underland, leaving their mother behind to heal from the plague. Though Gregor's family receives frequent updates on her condition, they all know Gregor must return to fulfill his role as the warrior who is key to the Underlanders' survival. Accompanied by his now-talkative little sister Boots, still considered the honorary "princess," Gregor joins forces with another princess--12-year-old Luxa--and Ripred the rat to defend the Underlanders and the vulnerable "Nibblers," or mice, from the rat army.

This is where the Underland series takes a turn for the serious. It's been felt in echoes in the last book, but this is where it begins to show the grown-up aspects of life and war. Gregor, as usual gets thrown into the thick of things, but is more willing to help with his mother still recuperating and realizing that his friends need him. This is where things get a little disturbing as the 'nibblers' get treated with hatred and killed for no apparent reason. War sets in in earnest and Gregor is put to the test as he tries to cope with the rage inside that has been unleashed by being thrown into such a violent world. Great series, but there are war themes and death.

The Rescue: book 3

By Kathryn Lasky

Ever since Soren was kidnapped and taken to the St. Aegoliue School for Orphaned Owls, he has longed to see his sister, Eglantine, again. Now Eglantine is back in Soren’s life, but she’s been through an ordeal too terrible for words. And Ezylryb, Soren’s mentor, has disappeared. Deep within Soren’s gizzard, something more powerful than knowledge tells him there’s a connection between these mysterious events.
In order to rescue Ezylryb, Soren must embark upon a perilous quest. It will bring him face-to-face with a force more dangerous than anything the rulers of St. Aggie’s could have devised –

and a truth that threatens to destroy the owl kingdom.

While being fun reads for adults, this series would be much more suited to kids from 8-12. They are quite enjoyable however and worth a read to see how you like them. They were good enough for me to keep reading, and I'm glad I did. They are only about 180 pages on average, and I was glad I kept going because I felt like the story hit its stride at about book 6. So while this and the next few books are a bit on the -well not boring side- but slower, I'd keep going.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ranger's Apprentice 8: The Kings of Clonmel

By John Flanagan

When mankind seeks protection from the world’s many dangers, they put their faith in warriors, kings, gods, and even money. In the neighboring kingdom of Clonmel, a mysterious cult has sprung up, promising defense against lawless marauders in exchange for people’s riches. Their sermons are attracting audiences from miles around, but there’s a dark side to this seemingly charitable group, prompting Halt, Will and Horace to investigate. What the trio uncovers could threaten the safety of not only Clonmel, but their homeland of Araluen as well.
In this new installment to the series that has sold millions of copies and garnered worldwide acclaim, secrets will be revealed and battles to the death will be waged. And this is only the beginning…

How long I have been waiting to read this book! Being an avid fan of the Ranger's Apprentice series, I was so happy to find that my local library was finally FINALLY carrying them. While being a poor college student, I wasn't able to buy it, but now I can keep up with my favorite Rangers. :) I am a happy soul.

This latest adventure didn't let me down in the least. Halt, Will and Horace are together once more to solve the riddle of The Outsiders, a suspicious religious cult that is anything but charitable. We find out lots of secrets about Halt's life in this one, for which I was super happy. Won't spoil it though, and I will shamelessly say once more (as I do with each of these books I review) READ THEM IF YOU HAVEN'T YET!!!!!!!!!


By Brandon Mull

Teased by his friends for having an imaginary friend, Chad tries to bid Pingo farewell but Pingo refuses to leave.

Brandon Mull does it again! The author of the Fablehaven series tries his hand at a children's picture book and captures our imaginations with Pingo. Anybody who had an imaginary friend, or ever wanted one, will love this book about a little boy who decides he is too old for his imaginary friend. But his imaginary friend isn't going anywhere without a fight!

On The Night You Were Born

By Nancy Tillman

This is a story of how nature and creation celebrate at the birth of a child.

This is a beautiful little book with nature illustrations depicting how the world celebrates at the birth of a new child. I think it is a sweet book and would be a perfect gift for those with new little ones. Warm fuzzy alert! :)

Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Journey (2)

By Kathryn Lasky

It began as a dream. A quest for the Great Ga’Hoole Tree, a mythic place where each night an order of owls rises to perform noble deeds. There Soren, Gylfie, Twilight, and Digger hope to find inspiration to fight the evil that dwells in the owl kingdom. The journey is long and harrowing. When Soren and his friends finally arrive at the Great Ga’Hoole Tree, they will be tested in ways they never dreamed and face challenges they never imagined. If they can learn from their leaders and from one another, they will soon become true Ga’Hoolian owls- honest and brave, wise and true.

The second book in the popular series about noble owls who fight for truth, justice, and...well you know. This story centers around the four friends as they learn from the different Chaws, or groups, in the Great Tree. Soren finds his niche in the Weather Chaw with the old and wise Ezylryb as his mentor. They are the owls that ride the gales and can fly through forestfires to gather hot coals for the tree. Gylfie is a natural for the Navagation Chaw, and studies the stars. Digger is a tracker, and Twilight is just Twilight. This is a fun book that shows how the young owls learn to become true Guardians.

Flat Stanley

By Jeff Brown

After a bulletin board falls on Stanley while he’s sleeping, he finds that being flat has its advantages.

After having heard of Flat Stanley from each of my nieces and nephews, I finally decided to find out what all the fuss was about. And how fun was it to read about a little boy who mysteriously becomes flat after his bulletin board falls on him one night? Stanley travels by mail, folding himself up and shipping first class. Stanley slides under the door when his Dad locks them out of the house, and becomes a kite for his little brother. Being flat is great! Until it isn't. This is a cute story that I can see why my nieces and nephews have remembered and loved reading.


By Scott Westerfeld

Tally thought they were a rumor, but now she’s one of them. A Special. A super-amped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid. But maybe being perfectly programmed with strength and focus isn’t better than anything she’s ever known. Tally still has memories of something else. But it’s easy for her to tune that out-until she’s offered a chance ot stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heart-beat, or carry out the mission she’s programmed to complete. Either way, Tally’s world will never be the same.

Finally the end! Really, that's how I was feeling. As usual, this was a page-turner and I've waited to read it for ages. It was a little weird and I was confused about what the author was trying to say. Tally is special in this one: super strong, super sleek, can heal at incredible rates...and has all pointy teeth. That image just creeped me out. Tally once again has to fight brain damage and decide who she really is and wants to be. It seems like everyone else has always been in charge of Tally and her life. That's about to change. Tally makes sure of it. Nothing matters now but taking control...even if she starts a war in the process.

Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods

By Suzanne Collins

With Two Prophecies Fulfilled, Gregor is now focused on the Prophecy of Blood, which calls for Gregor and Boots to return to the Underland to help ward off a plague. But this time, his mother refuses to let him go…until Ripred the rat convinces her that Gregor and Boots need to stay for only a brief meeting. Finally, Gregor’s mom relents, provided she is allowed to travel with them.
When they arrive in the subterranean city, the plague is spreading-and it has claimed one of his closest companions. Only then does Gregor start to understand how the illness plays with the fate of all warmblooded creatures, but he still doesn’t know how he can help combat it.

And the plot thickens...That's how this third installment of the Underland series feels. There is a definite change of tone in this book, it gets a little darker and more heavy laden for the 12 year old warrior Gregor. Although, having his mother along is an interesting twist. As per usual, Collins is able to pull your heartstrings at the necessary fighting that accompanies war. When Gregor has to find the cure to save those closest to him, he begins to see that he just might be what everyone already thinks he is: the warrior destined to save them all.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture

By Kathryn Lasky

Soren is born in the forest of Tyto, a tranquil kingdom where the Barn Owls dwell. But evil lurks in the owl world, evil that threatens to shatter Tyto’s peace and change the course of Soren’s life forever. Soren is captured and taken to a dark and forbidding canyon. It’s called an orphanage, but Soren believes it’s something far worse. He and his friend Gylfie know that the only way out is up. To escape, they will need to do something they have never done before-fly.

This is the popular series that spawned the recent movie "Legends of the Guardians". I read this over a year ago, but decided it deserved a review. I've read the first 11 books in the series and have enjoyed it immensely. Soren is a loveable character who believes faithfully in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole- a arthurian like legend among owls. He dreams of becoming just like them. When his life takes a horrible turn and he is pushed out of the nest by his brother Kludd, he is taken to Sanit Aggies, a school for "abandoned" owlettes. The story of his escape and survival is an epic journey; one that anyone who enjoys stories of good and evil will appreciate and love. A great read for owl-lovers like myself as well. :)
P.S. I did see the movie and it was okay for a book adaptation. My favorite part was the computer graphics and the song by Owl City. :) Read the book first if you see the movie. It makes more sense and is more enjoyable.

The Story of Ferdinand

By Monro Leaf

Ferdinand is a bull who likes to sit and smell the flowers, but is picked for the bull fights in Madrid.

So this is quite the cutest book I've ever read. The illustrations really make the book. I picked it up because of the movie "The Blind Side". I'd heard of this book, but hearing part of it on the movie made me want to read it. I actually read it to my Mom and we laughed and had a good time. Just goes to're never too old for kids books. :)


By Janell Cannon

Verdi is a young python who does not want to grow slow and boring like the older snakes he sees in the tropical jungle where he lives.

This is a cute picture book by the same author as the award winning "Stellaluna". Along with beautiful bright pictures, the story of Verdi is a charming one of growing up and learning how to be content and still yourself.

Of Two Minds

By Carol Matas and Perry Nodelman

The complex plot follows the adventures of Lenora, a headstrong princess with the power to make anything she imagines real, and Coren, the shy prince chosen by her parents to be her husband. Trapped in a strange land and stripped of their powers (Coren had been able to read the thoughts not only of humans, but also of animals and objects), the two must work together to overthrow the tyrannical Hevak, restore harmony to the country, and return home safely. Their triumph is particularly impressive and meaningful because it involves learning self-mastery (Lenora) and self-confidence (Coren) rather than simply overcoming an outside challenge through brute force. That the happy ending comes with no guarantees (and no imminent wedding bells) makes it even more believable and satisfying. The story moves swiftly and the writing is consistently smooth, with sophisticated vocabulary and challenging concepts. Matas and Nodelman have themselves done a heroic job of melding their two voices to create a kaleidoscope of character, cultures, and events that offers both entertainment and enrichment to young readers.

Written in the alternating voices of Coren and Lenora, this book was rather surprising. At first I picked it up because the little teaser on the front cover interested me. (You can't escape your deepest thoughts). When I started reading it, it seemed pretty typical and I almost put it down. I'm glad I gave it a chance. Usually I'm not a fan of alternating narrators, but they did a very good job. I usually end up liking one character over another, and that was true with this novel, but even so, I looked forward to the plot developement. It was an entertaining read and had some interesting concepts. Having Coren and his people able to read each others minds was rather funny. (His mother just pops into his head whenever she thinks he needs a pick-me-up). Lenora on the other hand can imagine anything into life. She's a menace to her people because she is so powerful. A fun book when all is said and done.

Smiles to Go

By Jerry Spinelli

He plans everything obsessively, from the perfect stargazing night with his crush, Mi-Su, to the regular Saturday-night games of Monopoly with his friends. He’s even planned his entire adulthood: Career as an astronomer; mint condition, black 1985 Jaguar XJS/12; two kids…
But everything changes the day Will learns one startling fact: protons-those tiny atomic particles, the building blocks to the building blocks of life-can die. The one thing that was so certain in this world to Will has an expiration date.
And Will’s carefully planned-out life?
Not so certain, either.

In his usual style, Jerry Spinelli delivers a believable story about teenager Will, who is just starting to realize that life isn't controllable. The catylst: a news story that a proton has died. Will begins to question the stability of everything in his life. If a proton can die, something that he thought was forever, then what is the point of everything? Asking questions we all ask at one point, this is the journey of one boy into getting a few questions answered...or at least he has started to answer them. It's a good book with a very personal story. It still wasn't one of my favorites from Mr. Spinelli, but it was good.

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (Book 2)

By Suzanne Collins

Months have passed since Gregor first fell into the strange Underland beneath New York City, and he swears he will never go back. But he is destined to be a key player in another prophecy, this one is about an ominous white rat called The Bane. The Underlanders know there is only one way to lure Gregor back to their world: by kidnapping his little sister, Boots.
Now Gregor’s quest reunites him with his bat, Ares, and the rebellious princess, Luxa. They descend into the dangerous Waterway in search of the Bane, and Gregor knows what is at stake. If he does not fulfill the prophecy, his life, and the Underland, will never be the same.

I am super behind. I read this ages ago and greatly enjoyed it. Gregor is an intriguing character and as alway with Suzanne Collins, extremely well written. Gregor is very unwilling to return to the Underland, which is one reason why it draws you in when he is forced into fufilling the role that the Underlanders have given him. Boots, Gregor's little 2-year-old sister, is hilarious in her naivete and love for the big cockroaches. Ripred is seen more in this novel and the violence portrayed escalates a bit with this second novel. All in all, it is an excellent seires, this being the second of 5 novels. I highly reccommend it for anyone who has read the Hunger Games trillogy and enjoys Collins' style and messages about war.