Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Am Number 4

By Pittacus Lore

We may be walking past you right now.
We are watching as you read this.
We may be in your city, your town.
We are living anonymously.
We are waiting for the day when
We will find each other.
We will make our last stand together if
We win,
We are saved, and
You are saved as well.
If we lose, all is lost.

I've been wanting to read this one even before I found out it was being made into a movie. It was really quite intriguing. It's geared towards the older young adults, and has quite a bit of language- what I call farmer swear words. The story was quite a page-turner. It's all about these 9 alien children that were sent to earth in order to survive that they might someday save their planet, which was attacked by these bad aliens called Mogadorians. There is a charm cast on them that they cannot be killed unless they are killed in order of their number. One was killed 6 years ago, Two was killed 3 years later, and Three has just died. Number Four is a young boy 15 years old that has lived a life moving from place to place whenever he and his gaurdian feel he is in danger. Now the danger is even worse, because now he can be killed, because he is next. Anywho, the story is great and fast paced. It's a book that teens will really like if they've been into the popular stuff like Twilight, City of Bones, Hunger Games, etc. Only this one is aliens. Sweet. My opinion of this book is there is too much making out (some people like it, I'm not one of them) and there are instances where I was sitting there thinking, 'dude, if I was in his situation I would be outta there in a flash, forget the hot chick.' There was a lot in the plot that I thought, wow I wish he would've given a better reason for Number Four staying than that he's crushing on this girl. Boring. But like I said, it's a page-turner and a fun read if you don't mind a little language. There are scenes of brain-explosions and gore at the end. That stuff doesn't bother me, but it was a little nasty. If you've read Daniel X you would probably like this book...or if you like aliens that remind me of superman. :)

P.S. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'll let you know how it stacks up next to the book when it comes to a Red Box nearby.


By Ingrid Law

Ledger Kale always dreamed of the awesome magical power he’d get when he turned thirteen- the day when folks in his family inherit an extraordinary talent called a savvy. But Ledge’s dreams are soon in pieces. And so are the toaster, the television, and the wipers on the family minivan.
After the Kales decide it’s safe to head to a family wedding in Wyoming, Ledge’s savvy rows. Worse, there’s an outside witness to his monumental mess: thirteen-year-old Sarah Jane Cabot, eagle-eyed reporter and daughter of the local businessman. Now Ledge has to stop Sarah Jane from turning savvies into headlines, stop her father from getting too close to Uncle Autry’s astonishing ranch, and scumble his savvy into control before he causes everything to fall apart.

This book, along with its predecessor, 'Savvy', are two of my new favorites. I'm talking want-to-own books. These books are so much fun, but I've always loved coming of age stories-and having the magical twist just makes them that much better. The thing about Savvies is they aren't magical powers really, they're just the knack of doing something unconventional. These books are all about figuring out your own savvy and going with it and finding the balance in your life to make you you. You'll fall in love with Ledge, Rocket, Fish, Mibbs, and all the others just as much as I did.


By Richard Bausch

Italy, near Cassino, in the terrible winter of 1944. An icy rain, continuing unabated fr days. Guided by a seventy-year-old Italian man in rope-soled shoes, three American soldiers are sent on a reconnaissance mission up the side of a steep hill that they discover, before very long, to be a mountain. As they climb, the old man’s indeterminate loyalties only add to the terror and confusion that engulf them. Peace is a feat of storytelling from one of America’s most acclaimed novelists: a powerful look at the corrosiveness of violence, the human cost of war, and the redemptive power of mercy.

Sooooo....this novel was not something I would ordinarily finish once I started. After about the 50th instance of the 'f' bomb I was ready to quit, but sadly it was assigned for a class. I began wondering if they really knew that word in the 1940's. Anywho, if this book didn't curse so much I would've really liked it, and it had a lot of really poignant scenes and was very well written (except the potty-mouth). So, I guess if you don't mind a dirty mouth just grab an Orbitz and try this one out. I recommend it for people who don't mind language and a few immoral references. If that wasn't there, I would've liked it.

The Magician's Nephew

By C.S. Lewis

Narnia…where the woods are thick and cool, where Talking Beasts are called to life…a new world where the adventure begins. Digory and Polly meet and make friends one cold, wet summer in London. Their lives burst into adventure when Digory’s Uncle Andrew, who thinks he is a magician, sends them hurtling to…somewhere else. They find their way to Narnia, newborn from the Lion’s song, and encounter the evil sorceress Jadis, before they finally return home.

This is the first book in the series...if you go by the chronological order. There is much debate about which way is best to read the seven books in the Chronicles of Narnia, but I'm not even going there. This book was so much fun to read read out loud. I had so much fun reading the dialogue, that is so witty and funny you can't help but laugh. I enjoyed the parallels to Christianity and the overall feel-goodness of the book. I'd never read this one and I heartily enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone who enjoys C.S. Lewis, or has loved 'The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe'.

Magic for Beginners

By Kelly Link

Magic for Beginners is the highly anticipated second collection by Kelly link. Link’s stories are engaging and funny- call them kitchen-sink magical realism. They riff on haunted convenience stores, husbands and wives, rabbits, zombies, weekly apocalyptic poker parties, witches, superheroes, marriage, and cannons. Link is an original voice-no one else writes stories quite like these.

So this is a fun novella. I really liked this one that was assigned for my college class. It's all about this kid and his friends who are fans of this tv show thats a little...different. It's called 'The Library' and it's about this main character named fox, who is played by a different actor on the show each episode, even the men. And the show is on randomly, and they have to pay close attention and surf the channels to catch when it's on. There is a huge fan base that is solely dedicated to alerting everyone when the show comes on. Underneath all the buzz about this tv show is the drama of real life. Jeremy inherits this phone booth near vegas that he calls and vents to, not knowing who is listening on the other end, until one day they talk back and he realizes it's fox from the tv show. This novella was compelling and interesting and I admit I was sorta wishing there was a show like 'The Library' on tv right now. This book does contain an instance of the 'f' bomb (that is my disclaimer).

Of Mice and Magic

By David Farland

More than anything, Benjamin Ravenspell wants a pet. But when he buys a mouse named Amber, he gets more than he bargained for. No sooner does Ben take her home, than Amber turns him into a mouse too. You see, Amber has magical abilities, and it so happens that Ben is a familiar-a creature that stores magical energy. Together they each form half of a powerful wizard. Alone, they’re just vermin. Soon Ben and Amber will find themselves pitted in an epic battle against a magical enemy who is as crazed as he is evil, and the fate of the world will depend on them learning to work together.

I met David Farland at a booksigning a couple of years ago and he seemed like a really nice guy. It's taken me this long to read one of his books. This children's fiction book is really cute. I'd say it's geared towards 4-7 grades. Ben Ravenspell is 10 years old and has two unconventional parents- one who has a hygiene problem and the other who is a champion couch potato. Ben is a kind kid who just wants a pet of his own. He doesn't realize that the mouse he bought from the pet store is a wizardess until she turns him into a mouse too. This book is all about Ben's adventures with Amber the wizard mouse. Cute and fun for younger kids.

The Castle of Llyr

By Lloyd Alexander

Princess Eilonwy has accompanied Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, on all his adventures. But a princess needs special skills that can only be learned in a royal household, so she travels to the Island of Mona to being her proper education. As it turns out, court life isn’t as boring as it seems to the unwilling princess-friends and enemies appear in many guises, and danger hides in every corner. When Eilonwy disappears and disturbing rumors about the evil enchantress Achren surface, Taran and his companions undertake an exciting and terrifying mission to rescue their princess. But will Taran battle to save Eilonwy’s life only to lose her in the end?

It was this book that got me hooked on the chronicles of Prydain. I really enjoyed watching Taran mature and grow in this adventure. He becomes the leader of his little band of friends, including the rather simple-minded prince Rhun. There is quite the shift for Taran, who is uncomfortably aware of his growing feelings for Eilonwy, who as a princess is destined to marry a nobleman. There is a fun relationship between Taran and Prince Rhun, who is a hopeful candidate for Eilonwy's hand. This book was really fun and full of the high style of writing that I enjoy echoing Tolkien for kids.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to Train Your Dragon

By Cressida Cowell

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as “the Dragon Whisperer”…but it wasn’t always so. Travel back to the days when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. Can Hiccup capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb? Join the adventure as the small boy finds a better way to train his dragon and becomes a hero!

After seeing the movie, I found this in the library and just had to read it. I loved the movie and thought it was hilarious. The book follows Hiccup's adventures trying to train his own dragon, Toothless. It reminded me a bit of Diary of a wipmy kid, as it had some pretty comical drawings to accompany Hiccup's funny and heroic story. There are some major differences between the film and book however, and if you don't want your kid reading some 'rude' humor (i.e. underwear humor) then I wouldn't let them at this one. It was funny and cute, but in the end I preferred the movie. Surprising, but true.

The Lost Hero

By Rick Riordan

Jason has a problem. He doesn't remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently she's his girlfriend Piper, his best friend is a kid named Leo, and they're all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for "bad kids." What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea-except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he’s in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn’t recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on?

Leo has a way with tools. His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What’s troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all—including Leo—related to a god.

So when I first heard Rick Riordan was continuing with the greek mythology stuff after finishing the highly popular Percy Jackson series, I was a little doubtful he could create something as sensational again. But, I will gladly say I ate my words. The Lost Hero was incredible. I think I liked it even more than Percy Jackson to be honest. Mr. Riordan has a knack for grabbing you with the first sentence. Which I had to laugh at: "Even before he got electrocuted, Jason was having a rotten day." If you're a fan of greek mythology and of Mr. Riordan, I highly recommend his newest series, The Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero and find out exactly who The Lost Hero is...

Enchanted Night

By Steven Millhauser

In his dazzling new work, Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Millhauser presents a stunningly original tale set in a Connecticut town over one incredible summer night. The improbable cast of characters includes a man who flees the attic where he’s been writing his magnum opus every night for the past nine years, a band of teenage girls who break into homes and simply leave notes reading “We Are Your Daughters,” and a young woman who meets a dreamlike lover on the tree swing in her backyard. A beautiful mannequin steps down from her department store window, and all the dolls left abandoned in the attic and “no longer believed in” magically come to life. Enchanted Night is a remarkable piece of fiction, a compact tale of loneliness and desire that is as hypnotic and rich as the language Millhauser uses to weave it.

Here's another novella I read for a college course I'm taking. I'm really getting sick of novellas. This one was no exception to the more contemporary books I've been reading lately. It's got a lot of adult content and drops a few of the worse swear words. It's a very strange novel told in a bunch of different perspectives of people all on the same night of the full moon. It's kinda creepy when all is said and done. The only part I thought was cool was when this mannequin comes to life. But other than that, this book is not for the mainstream reader. If you like strange, modernistic artsy stuff, and don't mind sensual scenes and profanity, sure give it a go. Otherwise stay far, far, far away...


By Ingrid Law

For generations, the Beaumont family has harbored a magical secret. They each possess a "savvy" -a special supernatural power that strikes when they turn thirteen. Grandpa Bomba moves mountains, her older brothers create hurricanes and spark electricity . . . and now it's the eve of Mibs's big day. As if waiting weren't hard enough, the family gets scary news two days before Mibs's birthday: Poppa has been in a terrible accident. Mibs develops the singular mission to get to the hospital and prove that her new power can save her dad. So she sneaks onto a salesman's bus . . . only to find the bus heading in the opposite direction. Suddenly Mibs finds herself on an unforgettable odyssey that will force her to make sense of growing up -and of other people, who might also have a few secrets hidden just beneath the skin.

This book ended up being a delightful find for me as I read Mib's unconventional story about growing up within an extremely unconventional family. Savvy was a Newberry winner, and for good reason. It's cute and fun, with some serious themes, and talks about the importance of finding your own Savvy in life. I absolutely loved Ingrid Law's characters, not only Mibs, but they all get the royal treatment and have depth and color. Go on a trip with Mibs on the pink bible bus to rescue her Poppa, make new friends, and begin to understand other people. I highly recommed this book.

The Black Cauldron

By Lloyd Alexander

In the imaginary land of Prydain, where “evil is never distant,” Prince Gwydion faces dangers more threatening than have ever been dreamed of. It has become imperative that the Black Cauldron, chief implement of the evil powers of Arawn, lord of the Land of Death, be destroyed. For each of the warriors chosen to journey to Arawn’s domain, the quest has special meaning. To Ellidyr, the youngest son of an impoverished king, it means a chance to satisfy his bitter longing for fame. For Adaon, beloved for his gentleness and bravery, the quest is an omen whose significance he dreads to discover. And to Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, the adventure seems a glorious opportunity to wear his first sword, and be a man among men. In this story, filled with great sacrifice and great adventure, each warrior fulfills his destiny in ways entirely unforeseen.

Before you ask, yes, this is the book that Disney based it's own animated version on. But, as per usual, it is quite different from the Disney movie. I can't say enough about this series, of which the first book is The Book of Three, which follows the adventures of Assistant Pig-Keeper Taran and Princess Eilonwy of Llyr. Author Lloyd Alexander is a master story-teller of the high style, very reminiscent of Tolkien, except these books are for a younger audience. If you like the journey-type adventure stories and memorable characters like Gurgi and Flewdur Fflam, you will love this series. After more than 40 years, it's still a story for everyone.

The Horn of Moran

By M.L. Forman

The land of Alusia is on the brink of war as two men have each claimed the throne. Only the true king can sound the Horn of Moran and prove his nobility. But the Horn has been lost for years. If it not found-and soon- it could mean the destruction of an entire nation.
It wasn’t that long ago that young Alexander Taylor embarked on his first adventure, where he discovered the fearsome dragon, Slathbog. Now he joins a band of seasoned adventurers who have been called up to retrieve the legendary Horn of Moran.
Their journey to the mysterious Tower of the Moon will take them through an enchanted forest, into battle against a goblin army, past the watchful eyes of griffin guards, and face-to-face with a sphinx and her deadly riddles.
With his sword, Moon Slayer, and the wise counsel of his wizard mentor, Whalen Vankin, Alex must use all his wizard and warrior skills to fight a darkness that may consume them all.

FINALLY! This is the sequel to Slathbog's Gold, a book that has gone very much under the radar, but a book that I loved. I was so excited to read this sequel, and it was just as fun as the first. So, if you'll just ingnore the lacking cover art, I promise it's really good! (This cover is the only art by Brandon Doorman that I haven't liked, so I'll cut him some slack). Alex is just coming into his powers and learning how to control both his temper and his magic. We see old faces return, and are introduced to a few new ones; and they are just as loved as the others. Forman has a simplistic way of writing that is endearing and has echoes of arthurian mannerisms and values honor. I think this series is worth the read, contrary to many critics. Please please give it a go!

Candle Man

By Glenn Dakin

Murder, mystery, and adventure aren’t your typical birthday presents, but Theo’s life has never been typical. Confined to his rooms in Empire Hall where he sees only his guardian and two servants, Theo has been told that he has a rare illness that requires him to wear gloves and suffer painful treatments daily. But when a strange package is left for hi in the graveyard on his birthday, Theo becomes part of an investigation that will take hi below the streets of London, reveal the true nature o his “illness”, and uncover an ancestor’s secret that will change his life forever.

This book was a major letdown. It had great promise, but was not well-developed. Theo, the main character lacks interest and personality, he pretty much sits there and goes on about how dreary life is. The premise of a kid who could vanquish evil because his hands light up when evil is near was an interesting concept, but obviously not a fully thought out one. I do not recommend this book at all. Go find something that is better written. (Wow, that sounded harsh, but I'm just saying...)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I'm Baaaaack!

I know, I know, it's been forever. I would offer all the standard excuses, but well, that gets old. I'll just say this: I'm back and ready for action! Here are some books for your perusal. :)


By Scott Westerfeld

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bit. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers. Deryn is a girl posing aas a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strike the Leviathan’s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory. Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead.

I really really like this series. This is the second book in a trillogy...yes another one. Scott Westerfeld also wrote The Uglies series, which was good, but I ended up not liking, so I'm giving him a second chance. In the first book, it was rather hard to get into the story, but as soon as you get a feel for the setting and the characters, a fondness for them leads you into a love for the story. Alek is a run-away prince with a secret: he's really the crown prince of Austria-Hungary. And Deryn is a plucky airman aboard the Leviathan, a massive whale-like airship, who has a secret too: He is actually a she. They both rely on each other and eventually Alek tells everything to Deryn, who he has come to trust more than anyone; but Deryn knows the moment she tells Alek she is a girl things will change between them and that just can't happen, he is a prince after all. This is a great story with lots of action and romance and just fun moments. The artwork is absolutely amazing and brings Westerfeld's world to life. This is one I'd recommend to anyone who is a fan of alternate history fantasy. Two thumbs up Mr. Westerfeld, but you better make Goliath just as good!

The Metamorphosis

By Franz Kafka

‘As Gregor Samsa woke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed into some kind of monstrous vermin.’ With a bewildering blend of the everyday and the fantastical, Kafka thus begins his most famous short story, The Metamorphosis. A commercial traveler is unexpectedly freed from his dreary job by his inexplicable transformation into an insect, which drastically alters his relationship with his family.

Okay, here's another book I had to read for a college class, and this was actually the second time around for me. I hated this book for years because of a so-called interpretation from a college lecture. This time around was much better, and I found the book strange, at times funny, and a little disturbing. A dude turns into a bug one day and his family hides him. The ensuing months and chaos. It's masterfully written and works on your curiosity in a subtle way. It's a quick read, you could read it in one sitting. If you want something different and a quick fix, this is a book you should take a look at. I suggest, however, that you don't read or look up any of the literary stuff on it; can get kinda out there and nasty.

The Scorch Trials (#2)

By James Dashner

Thomas and the rest of the group's escape from the Maze and the horrifying creatures called Grievers has proven to be short-lived because WICKED, the group behind it all, has another trial in store for them. Sun flares have destroyed most of the Earth, and a virus called the Flare has ravaged its population. Infected people turn into zombies called Cranks that attack and eat one other. The kids are told that they have the Flare but if they succeed in surviving the second trial, they will be cured. With few supplies, they must travel across 100 miles of hot and scorched land within two weeks to reach a safe house to receive the cure. When Teresa, Thomas's best friend and the only girl in the group, disappears, and he loses the ability to communicate telepathically with her, he and the other guys determine to find her. As they trek across the barren desert encountering crazed Cranks, the teens' loyalty to one another and the group is tested.

This is the second book in The Maze Runner trilogy. This series is tricky to review because it is so up in the air as to whether you really like it or not. There is a lot of violence and brutality in this series, as the characters go through a lot and death is rampant. Where the first book raised about a billion questions, reading the second one answered about 3 questions and posed four million more. It is a book that you are constantly asking What? Who? WHY?!! I'll say this for this dystopian series, it is a definate page turner. Lots of people don't care for it because of the violence, but I'm holding on saying a definite yes or no until the last book comes out in October. When I get my answers, then I'll either say "kudos to you Mr. Dashner." or I'll be crying in a corner saying, "Why did I put myself through this?" I'll let you all know!

This book is reminiscent of The Hunger Games and The Uglies series. So if you like these books, I'll bet you'll love this one.


By Lois Lowry

Where do dreams come from? What stealthy nighttime messengers are the guardians of our most deeply hidden hopes and our half-forgotten fears? Drawing on her rich imagination, two-time Newberry Medal winner Lois Lowry confronts these questions and explores the conflicts between the gentle bits and pieces of the past that come to life in dream and the darker horrors that find their form in nightmare. In a haunting story that tiptoes between reality and imagination, two people- a lonely, sensitive woman and a damaged, angry boy- face their own histories and discover what they can be to each other, renewed by the strength that comes from a tiny, caring creature they will never see.

This book is by one of my favorite authors. Lois Lowry has written The Giver, and Number the Stars, among many others. Gossamer is a sweet story about where dreams come from and how important they are to us. I enjoyed following Littlest One around and gathering pieces of memory with her touch as light as gossamer. This is a great short read with a sweet and gentle feeling to it. I finished this one with a sigh and a smile.

Heart of Darkness

By Joseph Conrad

Set in an atmosphere of mystery and menace, ‘Heart of Darkness’ tells the story of Marlow’s journey up the Congo River to meet the remarkable Mr. Kurtz. It reveals Conrad at the height of his powers as a writer of great vividness, intensity, and sophistication.

I've wanted to read this one for a long time, and finally got my chance when it was assigned for one of my college classes. This novella is just plain weird. Half of it is just waiting for rivets at this little town on the river. The whole plot revolves around meeting the mysterious Kurtz, and when we finally do, it is rather anticlimatic. I kept reading simply because I wanted to find out what the big deal was (and I needed the credit!). All in all, this is a quick but dragged-out read about the dark side of people. The cannibals were kinda cool though...

The Fiend and the Forge

By Henry Neff

Book Three, The Fiend and the Forge, is an unforgettable dystopian adventure across a landscape overrun with goblins and trolls. The world has changed almost beyond recognition, for with the Book of Origins firmly in his possession, the villainous Astaroth now has the power to reshape history at will. Plucking pivotal discoveries from mankind’s past, he has reduced the world to a preindustrial nightmare. But while most humans toil as slaves within four demonic kingdoms, Astaroth allows those at Rowan to thrive in peaceful isolation. Theirs is a land where magic and nature flourish . . . so long as none dare oppose the new order. That proves too steep a price for Max McDaniels. Unsure of his place at Rowan, Max sets out to explore the shifting landscape of the world beyond. In the course of his travels, he will become many things: Prisoner. Gladiator. Assassin. But can he become the hero that mankind so desperately needs?

I thought I would die waiting for this book to come out, and I wasn't disappointed in my wait. What a story and boy has it evolved into a creature I could never have predicted! There are so many different things that happen in this book that completely threw me for a loop. It's not often I'm suprised at plots, but I was shocked time and time again. It was so wonderful! I'll just say this: I think I'm going to be afraid of wells for a while. I don't know why more people haven't read this delightful series; Mr. Neff is super talented and I quite enjoy his art as well as his words. Can't wait for the next book to make its debut!