Saturday, December 17, 2011

Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25

Richard Paul Evans

To everyone at Meridian High School, Michael Vey is an ordinary fourteen-year-old. In fact, the only thing that seems to set him apart is the fact that he has Tourette’s syndrome. But Michael is anything but ordinary. Michael has special powers. Electric powers.

Michael thinks he's unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor also has special powers. With the help of Michael’s friend, Ostin, the three of them set out to discover how Michael and Taylor ended up this way, but their investigation brings them to the attention of a powerful group who wants to control the electric children – and through them the world. Michael will have to rely on his wits, powers, and friends if he’s to survive.

 
When I saw that Richard Paul Evans was trying his hand at young adult fiction, I was intrigued. He's a good author, but I wondered how he would fair in the ever growing popularity of fantasy and fiction. I shouldn't have worried about a veteran writer like Evans. This book was so fun to read, though I got a little bored as he was describing the big jewelers and such, but had to laugh when I was watching Jeopardy and there was a question about the hope diamond and I was able to answer it because of this book...everyone was impressed!
Michael Vey was a great character right off the bat. Take bullied megga-powered kid plus brain of the school, plus popular and beautiful cheerleader and you've got a good premise. Add in evil 'school' that actually tortures and murders and brainwashes, and you've got an exciting read.  It was fun to read, and though some turns were fairly predictable, Evans did a good job mixing up the genre just enough to satisfy a  young-adult fiction junkie like myself.
Michael's story is face-paced and action packed from page one to the end. I'm excited for the next installment and wonder what fun Evans will pull out of his hat for Michael, Taylor, and Ostin next.

The Golden Tree

By Kathryn Lasky


Soren and the Band are back. Coryn has retrieved the ember and it seems a golden age is dawning at the Great Ga’Hoole Tree. But all that is gold is not necessarily good. Soern, Twilight, Gylfie, and Digger face their biggest challenge yet as the young king, haunted by the suspicion that haggish blood flows in his veins, hunts for the truth. His wanderings imperil himself and the good guardians who travel with him.
Meanwhile, back at the tree, the influence of the ember is strong—and strange. The tree changes, as do the guardians left to govern in the young king’s absence. Otulissa objects to the strange new ways, and her outspokenness puts her in grave danger. Someone must get word to Soren and the Band. But who?

 
I have been searching two separate libraries for about six months for this blasted book. That is the frustrating thing about reading elementary size books. I can read them in about 2 hours but have to remember that kids take forever! This is I think book 11 or 12 in the Ga'Hoole series. Can't keep track anymore...it needs numbers on the spine or something. Anywho, this book was fun. It continues with Coryn, the new King of the Great Tree and follows his fears of his bloodline and how he can measure up to be a good king. It's a fun story, and kids will really enjoy this series if they like animals and fantasy. They run about 150 pages.

Animorphs: The Invasion

By K.A. Applegate


Sometimes weird things happen to people. Ask Jake. He could tell you about the night he and his friends saw a strange light in the sky that seemed to be heading right for them. That was the night five normal kids learned that humanity is under a silent attack—and were given the power to fight back. Now Jake, Rachel, Cassie, Tobias, and Marco can transform into some of the most dangerous creatures on Erath. And they must use that power to outsmart an evil greater than anything the world has ever seen…

 
This is a series from the 90s that I fell in love with as a kid. There was something so extremely cool about kids who could turn into any animal that they touched and they fought aliens from taking over the Earth. These kids get a mission from a dying blue alien and their awesome morphing powers. They also find out that the Earth is being secretly taken over by gross little slug-like aliens that crawl into your ear and control your brain. (I wonder if Stephanie Myers read these...) I think this series is a great buy for boys and girls that are reluctant readers. The series goes up in the 50s I think...it kinda got a little ridiculous like Goosebumps. But it was a great ride for me as a kid from about ageg 8 to the time I was 13 or so. My friend and I both found ourselves some morphing suits and pretended we were Animorphs too, though I probably looked ridiculous in a bright yellow-orange swirled swimsuit over top of blue leggings...Anyways it's a great book for kids in later elementary stages.
Only one warning: it does use H-E double hockey sticks (yes I still say that) and has some references to beer (drink responsibly and all that).
 
 
 
This is the newly released cover for the Invasion, which I find slightly disturbing. They are the pictures that you tilt and Jake changes into a lizzard before your eyes. Cool Beans.

Animorphs: The Visitor

By K.A. Applegate

If someone told you Earth was under a silent attack, there’s a good chance you’d think they were pretty strange. If that same person said Earth’s only means of defense depends on the actions and powers of five kids, you’d probably start to look for a quick exit. Guess what? It’s all true.

Rachel and her friends knew they were in for some pretty strange stuff from the very beginning. How often do you run into a dying alien who gives you the power to morph into any animal you touch? But that was before they knew what they would be up against. Now they know. And they know what they have to do. Before it’s too late…

 
This is the second book in the Animorphs series told in the perspective of beautiful, yet tough, Rachel. In this story the newly formed team of teenagers try to find out more about the plan of the evil alien Yeerks to take over their planet and the only way they can figure out how to do that is a covert mission to their assistant principal's house- a known leader of the Yeerks, and also one of Rachel's best friend's dad. Their mission is ever more clear as they face greater and greater dangers together, and the ever present fear of being trapped in the body of an animal...
 
 
 
 
 
New released cover-funny enough the cat is actually how it is described in the book versus the first release cover. Go figure.

Animorphs: The Encounter

By K.A. Applegate

When Tobias, Jake, Rachel, Marco, and Cassie were given the ability to morph, they were also given the ability to morph, they were also given one very important warning: Never stay in a morph for more than two hours. It seemed a small price to pay, since the kids know that humans everywhere are being forced to let slimy, spineless creatures creep into their brains. And the only way the kids can fight back is not to be human.

But Tobias stayed in his morph too long. And now he’s a hawk—with a boy’s mind—forever. Tobias knows they can’t give up. That they all made a promise. So now it’s four kids and a hawk against a force that is determined to destroy them. Or die trying…

 
This series is one that goes on and on, but having the story told from different perspectives each book is refreshing, even if the plot can get predictable. Tobias is my favorite character and always has been since I first read these as a kid. This book was great fun to see how Tobias lives as a Red-Tailed Hawk and the things he misses about being human. His struggles to determine if he really is still human is one of the most interesting aspects of this particular book in the Animorphs series. What makes a human, well, human? This is a great adventure series for reluctant readers ages 8-14 specifically, but still fun to read as an adult.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is the new cover release for The Encounter

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Graveyard Book

By Neil Gaiman


Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy—an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer.
But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under the attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…


This book was pretty cool. A kid who grows up in a graveyard with ghosts for parents? Talk about interesting reading. The fun thing about this book is it reads like a series of clips taken from Bod's life and experiences as he ages. It's only about 300 pages, but it feels like Mr. Gaiman took pains to make Bod's character sure. It covers Bod's experiences with goul gates, hounds of god, ghosts in general, hauntings, and fear. Body's story is both coming of age with a twist, a mystery, and a perpetual adventure.  It's a great spooky story about a kid who has to figure out what a living means while surrounded by the dead. Perhaps Bod knows what living is better than anyone else...

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

By Avi


Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty. But I was just such a girl, and my story is worth relating even if it did happen years ago. Be warned, however: if strong ideas and action offend you, read no more. Find another companion to share your idle hours. For my part I intend to tell the truth as I lived it.


This was a fun story by Avi full of mystery and adventure on the high seas. This is a novel about a young girl (13 if I read correctly) that, through a set of strange circumstances, travels alone on a merchant ship from England to her home in America after having finished school to join her family. Her trip is a growing and learning experience. Should she trust the gentlemanly captain of the ship, or should she trust the black cook Zackarias who is rough but friendly? There are many hints and clues that there are things that aren't right on the ship Seahawk- like the men who ran away from the ship on the docks, or how Zacharias thinks Charlotte needs a knife to protect herself, or how the captain asks her to spy on the crew...
This is a fun read that taught me a lot about ships and sailing. There are diagrams in the back so you know what she talks about when she mentions the forelock and the galley. It is an intense read with murder and mystery abounding. I was actually surprised a few times while reading it; you'll enjoy Charlotte's voice.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Crossed

By Ally Condie


Rules are different outside the society. Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky—taken by the Society to his sure death—only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.


I got this sequel to Matched yesterday...and finished yesterday. I was sick and so the perfect opportunity to read presented itself. I'm quite taken with the tone of this novel, as well as the love story and the dystopian future where choice is all but gone. This is a novel that focuses a lot on the power of words, poetry, and love, and freedom. There is a sweet lyrical rhythm to Ally's writing that I love, that speaks to your heart. I really enjoyed the first half of the book as Cassia and Ky are telling their stories of how they plan to find each other again. The novel takes turns between Ky's perspective and Cassia's. There are new characters introduced that I both liked and didn't like. This books mostly takes place in the Outer Provinces in the Carving (the canyons) that are reminiscent of Utah's Bryce Canyon and Zion's Park. I can't really tell much without giving things away, but I will say that I was happy with this second book and will read it again. Sometimes when I inhale a book that way I miss details, and I really love the poetry of it.

Below is an excerpt, the first chapter in Ky's perspective just to give you a taste!

Crossed Chapter 1

Ky

I'm standing in a river. It's blue. Dark blue. Reflecting the color of evening sky.
I don't move. The river does. It pushes against me and hisses through the grass at the water's edge. "Get out of there," the Officer says. He shines his flashlight on us from his position on the bank.
"You said to put the body in the water," I say, choosing to misunderstand the Officer.
"I didn't say you had to get in yourself," the Officer says. "Let go and get out. And bring his coat. He doesn't need it now."
I glance up at Vick, who helps me with the body. Vick doesn't step into the water. He's not from around here, but everyone in camp knows the rumors about the poisoned rivers in the Outer Provinces.
"It's all right," I tell Vick quietly. The Officers and Officials want us to be scared of this river- of all rivers- so that we never try to drink from them and never try to cross over.
"Don't you want a tissue sample?" I call out to the Officer on the bank while Vick hesitates. The icy water reaches my knees, and the dead boy's head lolls back, his open eyes staring at the sky. the dead don't see but I do.
I see too many things. I always have. Words and pictures connect together in my mind in strange ways and I notice details wherever I am. Like now. Vick's no coward but fear films his face. The dead boy's sleeves are frayed with threads that catch the water where his arm dangles down. His thin ankles and bare feet glow pale in Vick's hands as Vic steps closer to the bank. The Officer already had us take the boots from the body. Now he swings them back and forthby the laces, a sweep of black keeping time. With his other hand he points the round beam of the flashlight right into my eyes.
I throw the coat to the Officer. He has to drop the boots to catch it. "You can let go," I tell Vick. "He's not heavy. I can take care of it."
But Vick steps in too. Now the dead boy's legs are wet and his black plainclothes sodden. "It's not much of a Final Banquet," Vick calls out to the Officer. There's anger in Vick's voice. "Was that dinner last night something he chose? if it was, he deserves to be dead."
It's been so long since I've let myself feel anger that I don't just feel it. It covers my mouth and I swallow it down, the tast sharp and metal as though I'm gnawing through foilware. This boy died because the Officers judged wrong. They didn't give him enough water and now he's dead too soon.
We have to hide the body because we're not supposed to die in this holding camp. We're supposed to wait until they send us out to the villages so the Enemy can take care of us there. It doesn't alwyas work that way.
The Society wants us to be afraid of dying. But I'm not. I'm only afraid of dying wrong.
"This is how Aberrations end," the Officer tells us impatiently. He takes a step in our direction. "You know that. There's no last meal. There's no last words. Let go and get out."
This is how Abberations end. Looking down I see that the water has gone black with the sky. I don't let go yet.
Citizens end with banquets. Last words. Stored tissue samples to give them a chance at immortality.
I can't do anything about the food or the sample but I do have words. They're always there rolling through my mind with the pictures and numbers.
So I whisper some that seem to fit the river and the death:

"For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far, 
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar."

Vick looks at me, surprised.
"Let go," I tell him, and at the same time we do.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot


Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.


Okay, here's a book I would never have read if not for college classes. This book made me sick. I can't believe all the stuff that goes on that we don't know about; I'm kinda hoping that Ms. Skloot was a bit elaborate in her telling of the story of Henrietta and her family and her cells. There's a lot of science in this book that is downright interesting enough that I would have loved to read just the science stuff because the human interest behind the story is tragic and horror-filled. Take a black family that doesn't much mind about incest, isn't able to educate themselves, is abusive, molesters, and has a case of murder and you have a very brief history of the Lack's misfortune. Take the doctor and science point of view about taking a woman's cells without her knowledge and then you start to wonder...what else are they doing that we don't know about? This book made me slightly paranoid of doctors. I can't and won't reccommend this book because of the mention of abuse and incest and molestation among other racial and ethical crimes. It's an emotionally hard book to read, but extremely well-written and, as far as I can tell, well-researched. If you have a second go look up Henrietta online. It's just too interesting not to know the science part of her life. Chances are, someone in your family is alive today because Henrietta died...

A Door in the Woods

By James Dashner


Jimmy Fincher entered the dark woods on a day like any other. But what he sees there changes his perception of reality and sets off a chain of events that explodes in a torrent of suspense and excitement. An ancient legend come to life. A conspiracy of madmen. Strange portals to other worlds. Villains named everything from Raspy to Shadow Ka. And behind it all is the old wooden door, lying deep in the forest by Fincher’s home. There, the world will change forever.


This is James Dashner's first series (The 13th Reality, The Maze Runner) and I thought it sounded fun and it was a fairly light read at 171 pages. It features Jimmy Fincher of Georgia, a kid who is adventurous and loves to climb trees- and name them. Jimmy stumbles into a fight that he never wanted a part of, filled with world-hopping, cool new powers, strange and terrifying monsters, and mysteries galore. This book is age appropriate for middle school aged kids and is a fun read for boys. This is the first in a 3 book series, of which I intend to read and review, but so far I'm having fun with Jimmy (though it is at times immaturely written and kidish- it's his first book people!) so I'll let you know if Jimmy is worth your time in the near future.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

By Robert Louis Stevenson

This masterpiece of the duality of good and evil in man’s nature sprang from the darkest recesses of his own unconscious—during a nightmare from which his wife awakened him, alerted by his screams. More than a hundred years later, this tale of the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll and the drug that unleashes his evil, inner persona—the loathsome, twisted Mr. Hyde—has lost none of its ability to shock. Its realistic police-style narrative chillingly relates Jekyll’s desperation as Hyde gains control—and gives voice to our own fears of the violence and evil within us.


So I decided I needed to read a spooky book for Halloween, and I just happened to have this on my shelf with the intent to read it at one point, so I thought what the heck. It was pretty fun to read a book that is so well known without really being well known. All the movies and portrayals of Hyde are wrongo-bongo. I was surprised by this narrative, which is weird because I've grown up knowing about it. It's really creepy in the way it lays bare the part of human nature that just wants to let go and do whatever crosses the mind. It shows what goes wrong when we allow ourselves to tap into those deepest darkest temptations and curiosities. Psycho thriller-esque. Old school style. Good quick read for a scary night.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halo

By Alexandra Adornetto

Three angels – Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, the youngest and most human – are sent by Heaven to bring good to a world falling under the influence of darkness. They must work hard to conceal their luminous glow, superhuman powers, and, most dangerous of all, their wings, all the while avoiding all human attachments.

Then Bethany meets Xavier Woods, and neither of them is able to resist the attraction between them. Gabriel and Ivy do everything in their power to intervene, but the bond between Xavier and Bethany seems too strong.
The angel’s mission is urgent, and dark forces are threatening. Will love ruin Bethany or save her?
 
 
Okay, first I will admit that I didn't completely "read" this book. I got about 3/4 the way through and was bored to tears. I sorta skimmed the last few chapters. This is pretty run of the mill since Twilight came into the limelight. Pretty paranormal girl meets too-good-to-be-true handsome boy. They both are obsessed with each other, they have to fight some evil dudes from breaking them apart. This book bugged me because I thought, 'hey, this might be different, it's angels.' Nope. Beth, the heroine is pretty much a human with wings. I liked Gabriel and Ivy better. Also, I don't think that an angel would fall prey to peer pressure or drink alcohol. Just saying. It was a little too Twilight-esque for me. We need a new fad people- and I need to quit falling for books with awesome covers that I know aren't going to be good...(sigh).

Mendel's Daughter

By Martin Lemelman


In 1989, Martin Lemelman videotaped his mother, Gusta, as she opened up about her childhood in1930s Poland and her eventual escape from Nazi persecution. Mendel’s Daughter is Lemelman’s loving transcription of his mother’s harrowing testimony, bringing her narrative to life with his own powerful black-and-white drawings, interspersed with reproductions of actual photographs, documents and other relics from that era. The result is a wholly original, authentic and moving account of hope and survival in a time of despair.


This memoir is pretty haunting. This is another holocaust story, but in a different perspective. I was expecting concentration camps but was suprised to find a story about how a family survives in a different way until the war is over. This book has a comic book kind of layout that gives life to the story told by Lemelman in his mother's words. It can be a little difficult to read because he writes it just like she tells it, she often refers to her father as 'the father' and other such things, but once you are used to it, it becomes a great voice in the story. The pictures aren't gory, but artistically done. Often when people are drawn dead they are merely laying on the ground, but it's the absence of blood that was haunting for me. There is only one really questionable drawing and that is of a mother nursing a baby. There is a little language and talk about woman's monthlies (don't know if that bugs anyone), and of course referencing to wartime violence and Jewish persecution. It's quite the read, interesting as well as emotionally told. Often when something horrible was being told, a picture of the people involved would be shown, but their hands covered their faces, as if it was too hard to face. It was powerful.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Death Cure

By James Dashner


Thomas knows that WICKED can’t be trusted. They stole his memories and locked him inside the Maze. They forced him to the brink of death by dropping him in the wilds of the Scorch. And they took the Gladers, his only friends, from him.
Now WICKED says that the time for lies is over. That they’ve collected all the data they can from the Trials and will rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission: to complete the blueprint for the cure for the flare. But Thomas must undergo one final test.
What WICKED doesn’t know, however, is that Thomas has already remembered far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what WICKED says.
The time for lies IS over. And the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever have imagined.

Will anyone survive the death cure?


It is finished. Really? I was kinda hoping for a little more information...say Thomas' past. That was really the only drawback of this finale to The Maze Runner trilogy. Much like life, the story isn't all roses and doesn't really have a neatly packaged ending. If you read the first two books you'll know how awful life has been for Thomas and the other Gladers, the ones who are still alive anyway. This book brings to light the state of the world and how the people are dealing with the devastation of an incurable plague called the Flare. This book centers around Thomas' search for freedom and his need to make amends for all he has done to aid WICKED. Much comes to light and much goes to darkness.  The only disclaimer I have is that this book is still centered around violence; including references to cannibalism, assisted suicide, murder and loads of death and destruction. It can be disturbing. But, for me it wasn't nearly as bad as the second book in the series, which made me a little queasy. If violence and some gore don't bother you and you enjoy distopian books, this one is a well-written series. As for me, I'm glad I know what happens to Thomas and the others, even though there was lots of horror to go through to get there. I'll just warn you that it's truly violent.

The End of the Beginning

By Avi


Avon the snail's voracious reading convinces him that having an adventure is the key to a happy life so he sets out on a journey with his new friend, Edward the ant. In a series of very short chapters, the two travel–at a snail's pace–the length of a branch.


This is a cute and witty little story, one which left me smiling at the sillyness and the wit implanted in its pages. This is a book you can read in about 45 minutes, and have a fun little adventure with a snail and an ant. Which the greatest adventure might be the fact that they become such good friends.

Wings

By E.D. Baker


Tamisin always knew there was something slightly weird about herself. When she was little, her freckles got her in trouble at school because they sparkled. Later, she felt compelled to dance outdoors every time the moon was full. Bu now, wings have sprouted between her shoulder blades—real, working fairy wings—and Tamisin realizes she needs more answers than her parents can give her. An it seems Jak, the new boy at school, knows something she doesn’t.
When some frighteningly familiar guests show up at Jak’s Halloween party, Tamisin’s world shifts beyond just a little strange. Armed with Jak’s friendship and the will to discover who she really is, Tamisin finds more answers than she bargained for…and not at all what she expected.


E.D. Baker is the author of the Frog Princess stories, of which I read the first. It was quite fun and entertaining so I decided to try out this different telling based on Shakespeare's A MidsummerNight's Dream. When I first started reading I didn't think much of it; it was pretty easily decifered and flatly written. But, when it switched from Tamsin's point of view to Jak's I was much more interested and entertained. I think the whole book should have been from his point of view, it was so much more interesting to see things from the fairy realm and the lives of the goblins. And Jak is a sort of everyman that people relate to. Tamsin is a little too stereotypical and sounds much younger than she really is. I think she is 15, but sounds more like a 12-year-old. That irritated me a great deal, as well as the typical 'mean girl' at her high school. Not very original. But as stated above, Jak's story is quite wonderful and entertaining. It was a cute story and an interesting view of Shakespeare's tale. If you need a quick fix of fairies, I'd say this is a fun start. I'll look for the sequel and see if it is any good. This book was first published as Wings but has been republished as Fairy Wings just in case you look for it and wonder what the difference is.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Skellig

By David Almond


Michael was looking forward to moving into a new house. It was all going to be wonderful. But now his baby sister’s ill, his parents are frantic, and Dr. Death has come to call. Michael feels helpless. Then one day he steps into the crumbling garage.
What is this thing beneath the spider webs and dead flies? A human being, or a strange kind of beast never seen before? The only person Michael can confide in is his new friend Mina. Together they carry the creature out into the light, and Michael’s world changes forever.
Told in lyrical prose, Skellig is a mystery, an adventure, and a family story, in which Michael learns about nature, poetry, and the healing power of love.


This was quite the amazing book. There was magic in the telling of it and the reading of it. I read this directly after I finished the Shel Silverstein book and found that it truly was poetically written. There is a beauty in the story that wrapped me up and carried me away with Michael and Mina, wishing to find Skellig too. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys lyrical prose and inspiring messages along with a bit of mystery and magic. I will say this as a warning: it does swear quite a bit using British profanity and the occasional use of the usual swear words. Since I am not British, it did not bother me, though I know that 'bloody' is apparently a very naughty word. Just so you know, it may change your desire to read it. If Harry Potter doesn't bother you, then this probably won't either (language speaking).
There is also a movie version of the book with Tim Roth in it (Lie to Me, The Incredible Hulk,) as Skellig. This movie was pretty good, but the book was so much better simply from the feeling of reading it. Read the book first if you want to see the movie. Please. :)


Goliath

By Scott Westerfeld


Alek and Deryn are aboard the Leviathan when the ship is ordered to pick up an unusual passenger. This brilliant/maniacal inventor claims to have a weapon called Goliath that can end the war. But whose side is he really on?
While on their top-secret mission, Alek finally discovers Deryn’s deeply kept secret; two actually. Not only is Deryn a girl disguised as a guy…she has feelings for Alek.
The crown, true love, with a commoner, and the destruction of a great city all hang on Alek’s next—and final—move.
The thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series, which was called “sure to become a classic”


LOVED IT.  Did you happen to read Mr. Westerfeld's other series Uglies? Well, to all of you people who were just a little disappointed with the ending of the last series, you will not be so with this one. How I love the characters in this story, the intricate weaving of actual historical figures into this alternate history where Darwinists fabricate animals for every purpose that they need, and the Clankers rely completely on their machines to help them. This ending to a great series, full of memorable characters and fantastic adventures, is one that will leave you completely satisfied. Deryn and Alek have loads of adventures ahead, and in this last written adventure their greatest challenge will be figuring out their feelings for each other. Oh please please read this series- it starts off a bit slow, but don't give up! It gets oh so very awesome the more you read. I love Scott Westerfeld for coming up with something so wondefully original and yet so reminiscent of the best fiction books I've read!

Everything On It

By Shel Silverstein


Have you ever read a book with everything on it? Well, here it is, and amazing collection of drawings from the creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up. You will say Hi-ho for the toilet troll, get tongue-tied with Stick-a-Tongue-Out-Sid, play a highly unusual horn, and experience the joys of growing down.
What’s that? You have a case of the Lovetobutcants? Impossible! Just come on in and let the magic of Shel Silverstein bend your brain and open your heart.


Are you poetry phobic? Just pick up a Shel Silverstein book and you'll be cured! He has the funnest poetry for children (and adult kids too!) that just make you smile. This was one of my favorites:

Spiders
A spider lives inside my head
who weaves a strange and wondrous web
of silken threads and silver strings
to catch all sorts of flying things,
like crumbs of thoughts and bits of smiles
and specks of dried-up tears,
and dust of dreams that catch and cling
for years and years and years...

There are silly spoems, serious poems, and poems that make you shake your head at the drawings that go along with them. Shel Silverstein is beloved by children everywhere- it's about time you find him too!




Out of My Mind

By Sharon Draper


Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And there’s no delete button. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school—but NO ONE knows it. Most people—her teacher and doctors included—don’t think she’s capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows…but she can’t because Melody can’t talk. She can’t walk. She can’t write.
Being stuck insider her head is making Melody go out of her mind—that is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice…but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.


I wanted to read this book because I work with special needs kids and they are the highlight of my day. I was interested by this story because it's something I've often wondered about the kids that cannot communicate; are they really unable to do so, or do they have voices that we simply cannot hear? Melody's story is one of love and bravery. This book is a wonderful tool to help others understand the difficulty of raising a child with any kind of special need and help them to understand how the children feel too. Sharon Draper did a wonderful job with this story, I found myself rubbing my eyes and smiling to myself and wishing more people could really get to know these truly special and unique children who embody pure and perfect love.

Wait till Helen Comes

By Mary Downing Hahn


Heather is such a whiny little brat. Always getting Michael and me into trouble. But since our mother married her father, we’re stuck with her…our “poor stepsister” who lost her real mother in a mysterious fire.
But now something terrible has happened. Heather has found a new friend, out in the graveyard behind our home—a girl named Helen who died with her family in a mysterious fire over a hundred years ago. Now her ghost returns to lure children into the pond…to drown! I don’t want to believe in ghosts, but I’ve followed Heather into the graveyard and watched her talk to Helen. And I’m terrified. Not for myself, but for Heather…


Mary Downing Hahn was my favorite author as a kid. I was sort of a ghost story junkie and her books had just the right amount of creepy and weren't ever gory. This book was my favorite and I used to read it at least once a year. I decided to re-read it out of nostalgia, and I found that it is a bit of a low-level book for adults, but I still heartily recomend it for kids in elementary. Especially around this time of year when they might want a good ghost story that will leave them satisfied and a little shivery (but not completely freaked out!) They are great books for not giving nightmares, but delivering satisfaction for your little ghost lovers!



Tuck Everlasting

By Natalie Babbitt


This is the exciting adventure of a girl named Winnie Foster who stumbles upon a great secret while roaming the woods one day on her family’s property. There she meets the Tucks, a peculiar family that seem almost childlike to Winnie, and she’s only 11! Filled with adventure, kidnapping, love, life, and death, this powerful story about what living really is will be one story you’ll not soon forget.


If you haven't read this wonderful childrens story you are missing out. My 3rd grade teacher read it to my class and it is one of the few that I actually remembered. Natalie Babbitt is a wonderful writer and this is one of her most famous books; a story about a young girl who feels trapped by her age, her family name, and her prim mother. So in defiance she one day decides to wander into the woods that are on her family's property. To her amazement she finds a handsome young man in a clearing drinking from a spring. When she tells him that she also wants a drink he acts very peculiarly and Winnie becomes frightened when he absolutely will not let her drink. She is wisked away on an adventure that teaches her about life, and what living reallly means.
This is a great book, a short but delightful read. And, much to my surprise, the movie was very good as well. A little different, but I shall always remember the end scene when Jesse is pulling away in the wagon and Winnie is standing in the street and he calls out to her, "I'll love you Winnie Foster, until the day I die!" If you read the book, you'll know why that line makes the romantic in me feel a little melty! Try them both, you'll love them. The main difference is Winnie's age. In the book she is 11, in the movie she is more around 16 or 17. Great great book! 


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Through His Eyes

By Virginia H Pearce


As anyone who has ever cleaned out a closet or a basement can attest, clutter is a reality of life. And it’s not just a physical reality. Our minds can become cluttered too, filled with beliefs about everything from our relationship with God to our feelings about our bodies to our housekeeping methods. Some of these beliefs are what author Virginia H. Pearce calls “Truths with a capital T.” They are eternal and will always be true, whether anyone believes them or not. The confusion in our lives comes because mixed in with those Truths are other beliefs, some of which might be useful but some of which are just plain harmful.
In this insightful new book, Sister Pearce invites us to become “inquirers after truth,” to examine all of our beliefs and try our best to see them in the light of the Truths we know to be eternal. By doing so, we can discard the half-truths and lies that may be hindering our progress. Our lives can be filled with greater happiness than we ever thought possible as we learn to see them Through His Eyes.


Read this book. Really. Read it. Doesn't matter if you're LDS or not. This is an awesome book to help you clean out the attic upstairs and gets some better ones in their place. This book is all about watching our thoughts and realizing that sometimes the things we take as truth can be outright lies and bad for our health and self esteem. It helps you to recognize truth with a captial 'T' and truth with a lowercase t and the outright lies that we tell ourselves daily that we hang onto without even realizing it. This is such a wonderful book full of great exercises to get you thinking and on the way to feeling better about yourself and rooting out the weeds in your mental garden.

Double Identity

By Margaret Peterson Haddix


As Bethany approaches her thirteenth birthday, her parents act more oddly than usual: Her mother cries constantly, and her father barely lets Bethany out of his sight. Then one morning he hustles the entire family into the car, drives across several state lines—and leaves Bethany with an aunt she never knew existed. Bethany has no idea what’s going on. She’s worried her mom and dad are running from some kinds of trouble, but she can’t find out because they won’t tell her where they are going.
Bethany’s only clue is a few words she overheard her father tell her aunt: “She doesn’t know anything about Elizabeth.”


Margaret Peterson Haddix is an author I haven't read much of, so I saw this one and decided to give it a try. It was interesting, but sadly it was pretty obvious what was going on and I figured out the whole story simply by reading the summary. I didn't put the whole summary up top because it tells the entire plot and outlines the book. So, if you do read this, DO NOT read the summary on the back. I myself could never not read summaries, but try not to if you want to be at all surprised. Pretty run of the mill when all is said and done.

The World Above

By Cameron Dokey


Gen and her brother, Jack, were raised with their mother’s tales of life in the World Above. Gen is skeptical, but adventurous Jack believes the tales and trades the family cow for magical beans. Their mother rejoices, knowing they can finally return to their royal home.
When Jack plants the beans and climbs the enchanted stalk, he is captured by the tyrant who now rules the land. Gen sets off to rescue her brother, but danger awaits her in the World Above. For finding Jack may mean losing her heart…


Oh, I liked this one. I wasn't too interested in a telling of Jack and the Beanstalk, but Cameron just seems to have quite the imagination for re-creating this timeless stories. Honestly, it felt more like a Robin Hood crossover with Jack and the Beanstalk simply mentioned. It was great fun to read and I enjoyed the heroine, practical Gen. The little love story was sweet and fun, but I've always been a sucker for Robin Hood...

Caleb's Creed

By Brent A. Barlow


Caleb had extraordinary character and impressive stamina. Although he endured many hardships, he kept a positive attitude and learned to create grand opportunities. Even at age eighty-five he was healthy, full of life, and hopeful about the future. His example is one from which all of us can draw great strength and courage. Renowned Church scholar Brent Barlow has formed six guidelines taken from Caleb’s biblical record for living a happy and exemplary life. Incorporated into your lifestyle, these simple guidelines can help you improve your way of life and overall well-being, whether you be eighteen or eighty-two.


This is another shorter LDS inspirational book about Caleb from the Bible. I don't know about you, but I didn't know hardly anything about Caleb simply because I didn't pay much attention to him when reading the Old Testament. After reading this book I can see why the author thought he would be a good inspiration for changing your life. The author gives 6 or so creeds to follow as the heading of each chapter of this book, which are all wonderful. My favorite feature is at the end of the chapter he gives questions to ask yourself to see what you need to improve on based on the specific creed he has just talked about. There were so many good suggestions and there are a lot of things that it gave me to work on. A great, quick read (about 80 pages) that I'll be going back to again and again.

The Storyteller's Daughter

By Cameron Dokey


In a faraway kingdom, a king has been betrayed. Deeply hut and bitterly angry, he vows he will not be deceived again. Unfortunately, the king’s plan to protect himself will endanger all of the realm’s young women, unless one of them will volunteer to marry the king—and surrender her life.
To everyone’s relief and horror, one young woman steps forward. The daughter of a legendary storyteller, Shahrazad believes it is her destiny to accept this risk and sacrifice herself.
On the night of her wedding to the king, Shahrazad begin to weave a tale. Fascinated, the king lets her live night after night. Just when Shahrazad dares to believe that she has found a way to keep her life—and an unexpected love—a treacherous plot will disrupt her plan. Now she can only hope that love is strong enough to save her.


I've never read Arabian Nights, but I knew the basic story of Shahrazad, and I really enjoyed this re-telling. The way the stories are told is fun, with them running their fingers over a length of fabric or cloth. I liked the stories embeded within the story that were akin to the simplistic fables you hear as a child, with adventure, sadness, and a moral to learn. This is a fun addition to the Once Upon a Time series.

Too Much to Carry Alone

By Camille Fronk Olson


Are you carrying a burden or facing a challenge that defies resolution? Challenges are an inescapable fact of mortality. But do we make our burdens heavier by trying to carry them alone?
The Lord has promised us His help if we will turn to Him. Author Camille Fronk Olson writes, “Each of us is personally invited to come unto Christ and trust Him to heal us.” She testifies that “by accepting His invitation to come to Him, we find the way to resolve every one of our problems. We are not talking about temporary, Band-Aid treatments but eternal solutions.”
With such help available, why continue to be weighed down? The Lord has promised to lighten our burdens and give us rest if we take His yoke upon us. This perceptive and hope-filled book reminds us that the only real and eternal solution to our problems is to believe in His promise—and shows us how to take Him at His word.


This is a great little book from Time Out for Women that is only 60 pages long.  I read it in about half an hour and was uplifted and found great insights. This book follows the scripture in Mathew 28; The one about taking His yoke upon you that your burden may be light. This book disects this message and breaks down how we can more easily take His yoke upon us. A great light read with lots of perspective.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Continuous Atonement

By Brad Wilcox


“I’ll never do it again,” we say—and then we do it. In a world full of challenges, temptations, and even addictions, it is easy to lose hope for ourselves and those we love. During times of discouragement, we must remember that the purpose of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is not just to cleanse and console, but also to transform—and that takes time. Christ is not waiting at the finish line once we have done “all we can do.” He is with us every step of the way, and His Atonement will be available as long as the perfecting process takes—continually.
Most members of the Church acknowledge that perfection is a long-term process, but overlook the continuous nature of Christ’s Atonement that makes that process possible. Peace is found not by giving up or erasing the need to change, but by turning to the One who makes change possible and realizing that we get lots of chances to start again. So, if at fist you don’t succeed—if at second, third, or fourth you don’t succeed either, don’t find excuses. Find the Savior and the blessings of His continuous Atonement.

"Christ doesn't just make up the difference, He makes all the difference."

Reviewing this book is somewhat difficult, because the words to describe it are hard to find. It's inspiring, touching, and filled with hope and love. Everyone finds themselves wishing they didn't make some of the mistakes they made, or like the first line says, breaking promises to never do "it" again. There is so much to know about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and so much that we misunderstand or simply never knew; for me this book brought to light many things that I just didn't understand or misconceptions that I had about regrets and repentence. If you struggle with anything in your life, pain, sin, sorrow, or loss; this book is for you; a labor of years of experience and collaboration from Brother Wilcox. I only wish with all my heart I could've read it about 10 years ago. It's a book that I know I'll return to with pen and paper in hand and love in my heart.

Wild Orchid

By Cameron Dokey


Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidering needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons his army, each family must send a male to fight. Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call. She never expects to be hailed a hero, and to be granted the first wish of her heart...but can even the Son of Heaven, emperor of all China grant her heart's true desire?

Loved it! This made me want to go find the disney movie Mulan and watch it again. It's similar in a lot of ways, but just different enough to keep you reading and cheering for the girl who simply wants the freedom to be herself. This book was awesome because it wasn't just a story about a girl finding love, it was about a girl who was different and knew it, and had to find a way to be true to herself and learn that people who really love you will value what you are, not what they wish you to be. It was awesome...wait, did I already say that? Sorry. I think I want to own this one. Great story, fun characters, and depth.

Favorite Quote: "All of us hold something unexpected deep within ourselves. Something even we may not suspect or recognize. While our heart's rhythm may seem steady, so steady that we take it for granted, this does not mean the heart is not also full of wonders and surprises. That it beats in the first place may be the most surprisingly wonderful thing of all."

Winter's Child

By Cameron Dokey


Free-spirited Grace and serious kai are the best of friends. They grew up together listening to magical tales told to them by Grace’s grandmother and sharing in each other’s lives. But when they turn sixteen and Kai declares he loves Grace, everything changes. Grace yearns for freedom and slowly begins to push Kai- and their friendship away.
Dejected Kai dreams of a dazzling Snow Queen, who entices him to leave home and wander to faraway lands. When Grace discovers Kai is gone, she learns how much she has lost and sets out on a mystical journey to find Kai…and discover herself.


I really love the lesser known fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, entitled The Snow Queen. That's what this book is a re-telling of; so how could I resist? Once again, sorry for those of you who are getting tired of my fairy tale kick...it will be over soon, I promise!
Anyhow, while this book is pretty different from the original fairy tale, it is also quite fun to read. I was satisfied that the book turned out the way I wanted it to, and that Cameron didn't go along with what was expected. I found it difficult to connect with Grace in a lot of ways, but Kai was a lot easier to understand. I also adored the Winter Child, who felt more like the protagonist than Grace was. This is a fun one, though probably not a huge favorite in the Once Upon a Time series, but still a great one that I enjoyed reading.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Label Update!

So I just spent a good chunk of my weekend updating the labels at the end of each post so you all can pick a topic and all the other books I've linked will pop up, like if you want to find books that are movies, all the books on the blog I've posted about will pop up if they have been made into a movie. I've got a bunch of different tags, and I'll continue to try and vary my reading so it's not all fantasy; though I'm not promising I'll start reading adult books. :) Hope you enjoy the new feature!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

By Sherman Alexie

Junior is a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation. Born with a variety of medical problems, he is picked on by everyone bus his best friend. Determined to recieve a good education, Junior leaves the rez to attend an all-white school in the neighboring farm town where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Despite being condemned as a traitor to his people and enduring great tragedies, Junior attacks life with wit and humor and discovers a strength inside himself that he never knew existed.
Inspired by his own experiences growing up, award-winning author Sherman Alexie chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one unlucky boy trying to rise above the life everyone expects him to live.

I have a bit of a torn nature about this book. I'm super sheltered, and so a lot of the things that he talks about in this book I thought were really inapropriate, even if it's true. And a big disclaimer for strong language and crudity abounds. There is a lot of talk of sexuality and other teenage hormone related things. There is lots of drinking as well and deaths. This book is rough to review because it is a true telling of what being an Indian on a 'rez' is like and how hard it is to break free of those expectations that Junior aka Arnold has on him to stay there forever. There are lots of laughs in this book, tears, and struggles for meaning and a purpose in life. I'd recommend it to those who don't mind or care about language and a bit of leud teen language and references. And I mean crude. All in all, I won't recommend this book; had good stuff in it, but too much of the bad to take. It's kinda like biting into a cupcake and then realizing there's a cockroach in the middle. Sad sad day.

Before Midnight

By Cameron Dokey


Etienne de Brabant is brokenhearted when his wife dies in childbirth, and he cannot bear to see his infant daughter, La Cendrillon .But before he abandons her for king and life at court, Etienne brings a little boy, whose identity he does not reveal, to be raised alongside her.
La Cendrillon and the boy, Raoul, pass sixteen years in the servants’ care. Then Etienne remarries, sending his new wife to live at the estate.
When they all are invited to a great ball, La Cendrillon’s stepmother makes a decision that will lead La Cendrillon and Raoul to challenge their understanding of family, test their courage, and ultimately, teach them who they are.

So I've read about a billion Cinderella stories in my time, so I didn't really want to read this one, but heck I thought I'd read it anyway. It's different than any other story, it's got a werid sort of magic in it; and love at first sight is made real. I like how Cameron explains love at first sight because I admit, I'm not a believer. The weirdest thing happened though when I read this book; I got pretty close to the end and I knew what was going to happen. It was the biggest de ja vu I've had in a long time. I've either read this before, or something almost exactly like it, because it was no surprise what happened at the end. But it was still good. I enjoyed it.

Golden

By Cameron Dokey


Before Rapunzel’s birth, her mother made a deal with the sorceress Melisande that if she cold not love newborn Rapunzel just as she appeared, she would surrender the child to Melisande. When Rapunzel was born completely bald and without hope of ever growing hair, her horrified mother sent her away with the sorceress to an uncertain future.
After sixteen years of raising Rapunzel as her own child, Melisande reveals that she has another daughter, Rue, who was cursed by a wizard years ago and needs Rapunzel’s help. Rue and Rapunzel have precisely “two nights and the day that falls between” to break the enchantment. But bitterness and envy come between the girls, and if they fail to work together, Rue will remain cursed…forever.

This is such a great retelling of Rapunzel. I adored that Ms. Dokey made her bald. This is the story of Rapunzel as you've never heard it; and it is romantic and sweet and full of great characters and motivational moments. This is another favorite in the Once Upon a Time series.

Beauty Sleep

By Cameron Dokey


Cursed at birth, Princess Aurore is fated to prick her finger and sleep for one hundred years. To protect her Aurore’s parents forbid traditional princess activities like sewing and embroidering. Aurore instead wanders the kingdom’s grounds.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Aurore learns that the impending curse will harm her and the entire realm. Unwilling to cause suffering to the townspeople she knows and loves, Aurore embarks on a quest to end the evil magic. The princess’s bravery will be rewarded as she finds adventure, enchantment, a handsome prince, and ultimately, her destiny.


I'm sorry to all you out there who don't like fairytail retellings, but I've been on a kick lately, so I'm apologizing in advance for annoying any of you. They are fun and quick to read, and I'm having to read textbooks and other such things that are not of my choosing for my university classes right now, so sue me for wanting some fluff.
Anywho, if you can't tell, this is the story of sleeping beauty, but told with rich characters and a fantastic story to boot. I love this story and have to say that Cameron Dokey nearly always gets it right for me. The little love story is perfect and it was sweet enough to make me sigh in contentment and not gag on too much honey, or feel like covering my eyes from too much...ya know. If you like these retellings, try this one it's great.

The Work and the Glory: Pillar of Light


By Gerald Lund

The first volume in the series The Work and the Glory begins the epic story of the Benjamin Steed family. In the 1820s they move from Vermont to Palmyra Township in upstate New York in search of better farmland. There they meet a young man named Joseph Smith and are thrown into the maelstrom of conflict and controversy that swirls around him. Did he really see the Father and the Son in a pillar of light? Has he truly been visited by angelic messengers? What is all this talk about gold plates and new scripture? In short, is he a prophet and seer or a monumental fraud? The answers each one gives to these questions-intensely personal, potentially divisive-will dramatically affect the lives of the Steeds forever after.


So here's another great historical fiction about the LDS (Latter Day Saints) and just how our church was founded and started. I adore this series, it helped me learn the history and I fell in love with the fictional Steed family of the early 1800s. If you are a member and you haven't read this series, I highly highly recommend it to you, and if you aren't a member go ahead and read it anyway, it's a great way to understand the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (also referred to as Mormons). Hear it from the mouth of an LDS author and follow the amazing history of this church and its pioneers.


You may have seen the movie- the first one was okay, but you really need to read the book my friend. Don't judge a book by its movie!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Perfection Pending

By Russell M. Nelson

“We need not be dismayed if our earnest efforts toward perfection now seem so arduous and endless. Perfecion is pending…it awaits all who love Him and keep His commandments…It is the end for which we are to endure.”
In this important book Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, offers o=hope and valued counsel to those who are struggling along life’s path to perfection. “If we do the best we can,” he says, “the Lord will bless us according to our deeds and the desires of our hearts.” And, in the same encouraging spirit, he notes, “Men are that they might have joy—not guilt trips!...Remember that the Lord gives no commandments that are impossible to obey.”






This is a book of favorite discourses by Elder Russell M. Nelson, who always gives wonderful talks at the LDS General Conferences. I adore his talk that this book is named for; if you are a perfectionist you MUST read this one talk at least. I'm sure you could find it at lds.org, but whatever you do it is wonderful and gives you peace about trying to follow the commandment to 'be perfect evan as your Father in heaven is perfect'. This talk is just the beginning in this book that focuses on the plan of salvation, home teaching, serving others, and many many other topics that will enhance your understanding and enrich your day. I loved it and hope others will pick it up and read it.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

By Gary D. Schmidt

Turner Buckminster can’t find anything good to say about his first six hours in Phippsburg, Maine, where even baseball is a different game. He’s about ready to light out for the Territories, where every shirt he wears won’t have to be starched white and no one will know him as the new minister’s son. But after meeting Lizzie Bright Griffin, a smart and sassy girl who lives on nearby Malaga Island, a poor community founded by former slaves, he doesn’t feel quite so miserable. Lizzie shows Turner how to hit a Maine baseball, dig for clams along the shore, and row a boat next to a whale—opening up a whole new world to him, one filled with the mystery and wonder of Maine’s rocky coast.
But the two soon discover that the town elders, along with Turner’s father, want to force the people of Lizzie’s island to leave so that a lucrative tourist trade can be started there. Although Turner is forbidden to step foot on the island, he and Lizzie try to save its people—and get caught up in a spiral of disasters that alter their lives forever.






Depressing. I was so depressed after this book was finished. I felt lost and sad for Turner and Lizzie. It started out so fun and light and then it had to dive into racism and serious matters...But really this book was very good. I can see why it is an award winner. It brings up a lot of controversy and tells a very human story of a boy who is just learning that he doesn't always have to be 'the minister's son' and a negro girl who knows far too well what is expected from her and of her. This is their story of friendship, love, and understanding each other in the most basic of ways. It's a great story by a talented author, though I wish that it could've ended happier for them.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

By Brandon Sanderson

A hero with an incredible talent…for breaking things.
A life or death mission…to rescue a bag of sand.
A fearsome threat from the powerful secret network that rules the world…the evil librarians.

Alcatraz Smedry doesn’t seem destined for anything but disaster. But on his thirteenth birthday, he receives a bag of sand, and his life takes a bizarre turn. This is no ordinary bag of sand…and it is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians who are taking over the world by spreading misinformation and suppressing truth. The sand will give the evil Librarians the edge they need to achieve world domination. Alcatraz must stop them! …by infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.




So this book is actually a pretty fun fantasy. I was a bit annoyed at the ramblings of the narrator Alcatraz that distracted from the actual story, but once you get through them (I admit I skipped some reading) the story is quite fun and interesting. Apparently we live in a world of controlled information and our librarians are the ones controlling it! There really is a place in the world where magic exists and technology is more advanced than we could imagine. Alcatraz is a part of a powerful family of Oculators that are trying to free the world from librarian rule. Each member of this family has a 'talent' of some kind; all of which at first seem ridiculous but then are shown to be extraordinarily handy. Especially when you're infiltrating a metropolitan library in search of sand and have to defeat an evil oculator. This book will have you smiling and leave you thinking. And don't read the last page early like I did...though it was pretty funny. :)

Nancy Drew: The Spider Sapphire Mystery

By Carolyn Keene

Thrilling, dangerous adventures confront Nancy Drew while on a safari in East Africa with a group of American college students. Excitement runs high as the teen-age detective delves into the theft of a fabulous sapphire formed by nature millions of years ago. The mystery starts in Nancy’s home town. Her lawyer father’s client, Floyd Ramsey, who fashions beautiful and unusual synthetic gems, is accused of stealing the magnificent spider sapphire and exhibiting it as his own creation. Mr. Ramsey’s enemies blackmail him and by their vicious acts try to deter Nancy from going on the safari.
How the daring young sleuth uncovers a nefarious scheme and also solves the strange disappearance of an injured jungle guide will keep the reader breathless with suspense form first to last page.




So I loved Nancy Drew when I was in elementary and was looking for some nostalgia and I really think that I read a different Nancy Drew because this was very...well boring. I'm sorry, that's just how I felt. Everyone was a little too prim and propper and it was strange. I suppose that comes from the time period some, but I still don't think they were that straight-laced even then. I don't think I'll read another for a while unless I find the ones I think I got into when I was younger. I know they were set in more modern eras. My opinion is also probably because I'm not a fan of mysteries. I overdosed as a child and am still getting over it!

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports



By James Patterson

This is the end friends.
But I promise that you’ll fly higher than ever before in this wild adventure, witness battles worthy of multiplex movie screens, and laugh until your sides burst.
Believe it or not, there’s even a little romance.
But all good things—and even terrible, unspeakable ones—must come to an end. This is that moment in time, I’m afraid.
Either we save the world, or we crash and burn. And I mean all of us—even you, faithful reader, because you play a very big part in this story.
--Max




A page turner as usual, this next installment in the Maximum Ride series is as action-packed and sarcastic as the last two. This series is purely for entertainment's sake. There is some swearing and of course the action bits with descriptions of blood and guts; though not overly gory. Max and the flock fight the baddies, and find out some mysteries that have been plaguing readers for a while including just who Max's parents are. If you've read the series, this one is good. It's got a very little romance in it as well...not overly mushy so I liked it. :)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Buck Up Little Buckaroo!

By Mary Ellen Edmunds

Sometimes you just feel lonely…
“Being lonely at times seems to be part of life,” writes Mary Ellen Edmunds, “and even the friendliest and most outgoing of people experience those feelings. Being lonely isn’t necessarily bad for you, but staying lonely is.” With that idea in mind, Mary Ellen applies her trademark good cheer and careful thinking to the topic of loneliness, helping us understand that loneliness is painful but not terminal, that we don’t have to be lonely, and that loneliness doesn’t need to rule our lives.




This caught my attention from the first time I saw it; the title made me laugh so I looked to see what it was about. When I found out it was a book about being lonely and how to deal with it and what it is exactly I was excited. It sounded like just the book for me, who like so many others have faced long periods of loneliness. I'm so glad I found this book. After reading the thoughtful remarks of Ms. Edmunds I sincerely want to write her a letter of appreciation for taking the time to write this book. It helped me understand a lot of things about what causes loneliness and why it can be good at times. The suggestions are wonderful, and I know I'll turn to them time and again when I get in the doldrums. I think my favorite part was the chapter on solitude. How profound! I won't say any more because I want people to read this for themselves and find the joy I did in figuring out my own unique way to deal with being alone.

Crispin: The Cross of Lead

By Avi

“Asta’s son” is all he’s ever been called. The lack of name is appropriate, bcause he and his mother are but poor peasants in fourteenth-century medieval England. But this thirteen-year-old boy who thought he had little to lose soon finds himself with even less—no home, family or possessions. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he has been declared a “wolf’s head.” That means he may be killed on sight, by anyone. If he wishes to remain alive, he must flee his tiny village. All the boy takes with him is a newly revealed name—Crispin—and his mother’s cross of lead.
His journey through the English countryside is puzzling, amazing and terrifying. Especially difficult is his encounter with the juggler named Bear. A huge, and possibly even mad, man, Bear forces the boy to become his servant. Bear, however, is a strange master, for he encourages Crispin to think for himself.
Though Bear promises to protect Crispin, it becomes clear that the boy is being relentlessly pursued. Why are his enemies so deterined to kill him? Crispin is gradually drawn right into his enemies’ fortress, where—in a riveting climax—he must become a different person if he is to save Bear’s life and his own.






Before this book, I had never read anything by Avi, of which I have been told is a shame. I am inclined to agree after my first sampling. Avi is something of a writer that I like; he is thourough, has a high but easy-to-read style, has a message to present, and memorable characters and vivid scenes. I enjoyed Crispin, as a historical fiction, and also a tale about a boy who simply wants to be free. Being a book placed in the middle ages, there is always some reference going on towards the church and priests, and prayer, and it's lovely. It seems like a lot of people don't want to touch the subject of any religion except to put it down. I enjoyed Avi's view on it; it's only as good or as bad as the men who teach/preach (speaking of the church of England). If you haven't read Avi, I think Crispin is an excellent place to start, and I was excited to find that Avi has written other adventures with Crispin but this book can stand alone; you need not read the others if you don't want to.

Peter Pan



By J.M. Barrie

Considered a masterpiece since its first appearance on stage in 1904, Peter Pan is J.M. Barrie’s most famous work and the greatest of all children’s stories. While it is a wonderful fantasy for the young, Peter Pan, particularly in the novel form Barrie published in 1911, says something important to all of us. Here “the boy who wouldn’t grow up” and his adventures with Wendy and the lost boys in the Neverland evoke a deep emotional response as they give form to our feelings about parents, boys and girls, the unknown, freedom, and responsibility. Humorous, satiric, filled with suspenseful cliff-hangers and bittersweet truths, Peter Pan works an indisputable magic on readers of all ages, making it a true classic of imaginative literature.


This book has been on my 'to read' list for years, and finally I got to it, and was a little disappointed. I never really liked the disney movie much, but as a kid loved Sandy Duncan as Peter Pan and watched it all the time. Sadly, I have never seen the actual play in person, and liked the live-action version with Jeremy Sumpter well enough. Peter Pan has always been touchy with me, but I did laugh every time in this book when Peter declares, "Ah, the cleverness of me!" He's quite the arrogant little bloke. I suppose I was thinking it wouldn't be quite so wordy, being a children's sort of play, but it was quite wordy at times and I looked forward to the dialogue. It was fun to read and brought me some pleasure in reading, but I want to look for the play version to read now and see what differences in feeling there are. Peter Pan will always be a classic adventure, and it's worth a gander, even if you've seen every adaptation there is under the sun!

Midnight for Charlie Bone



By Jenny Nimmo

What’s happening to Charlie Bone? Chalie doesn’t want to believe it when he discovers that he can hear the thoughts of people in photographs. But his horrible aunts are delighted—it means he is one of the chosen and must attend the Bloor’s Academy for gifted children. Once there, Charlie realizes that some of his classmates have equally mysterious powers, and soon Charlie is involved in uncovering the mysterious past of one of them.




This is a Harry Potter-esque book, I think pointed toward a younger audience than Harry. But like Ms. Rowling's phenominal series, this is about Charlie Bone (of course) who finds out one day that he is one of the 'endowed' and must go to a special school called Bloor's Academy. With his best friend Benjamin, Charlie is thrown into a mystery surrounding a student that may be attending his new school and has promised to find out what ever happened to a little girl that was traded for a case that is now in Charlie's posession and which his ill-intending aunts want very badly. This book was a cutesy sort of story, and while you are supposed to be horrified at someone trading a child for a strange black case, it seems rather unbelievable. Especially when all the adults tell Charlie he has to figure things out; what adult flipantly tells an eleven year old kid to do something that important? It's a fun story, and kids will like it, but young adults and adults probably will find it a bit too juvenile for personal enjoyment.