Friday, July 27, 2012

Beyonders 2: Seeds of Rebellion

By Brandon Mull
 Jason Walker needs to find a way back to Lyrian. Rachel remains stranded there, and Jason has precious information that the friends he left behind must learn in order to have any hope of surviving and defeating the evil emperor Maldor.

When he finally succeeds in returning to the strange and imperiled world, Jason immediately finds himself in more danger than ever as the most wanted fugitive on the continent. Meanwhile, Rachel has begun to discover new abilities of her own that may prove vital against Maldor’s tyranny.
In the aftermath of a failed quest, a new mission arises—to assemble the remaining heroes of Lyrian. Can the necessary allies be convinced before the emperor crushes the young uprising? Jason, Rachel, and their and of battered heroes will face new enemies and demanding obstacles as they strive to launch a desperate rebellion.

Brandon Mull is my creative hero. I love his books for his awesome characters and magical ideas. This second installment in the Beyonders trillogy is just as great as the first one. We start off with Jason once again on earth yearning to return to Lyrian and give his friends some vital information that he learned from Maldor himself, not to mention his guilt at leaving Rachel behind, even if it was unintentional.
The action picks up immediately and we are reunited with old friends and some scarey new enemies.  Jason is able to relay his information to Galloran, the Blind King, and they begin a journey to recuit allies and build an army for the coming war. Jason is fully invested in helping his friends on Lyrian, and helping Rachel get back to her parents. Rachel is discovering some amazing new talents, but still longs to return home. The question is...will they survive the war to be able to return home?

4 out of 5 for sheer awesomeness.


By Richard Harland

 Col Porpentine understands how society works: The elite families enjoy a comfortable life on the Upper Decks of the great juggernaut Worldshaker, and the Filthies toil Below Decks. Col’s grandfather, the superme Commander of Worldshaker, is grooming Col as his successor.
Used to keep Worldshaker moving, Filthies are like animals, unable to understand language or think for themselves. Or so Col believes before he meets Riff, a Filthy girl on the run who is clever and quick. If Riff is telling the truth, then everything Col has been told is a lie. And Col has the power to do something about it—even if it means risking his whole future.

This book was surprisingly awesome. I was expecting a run-of-the mill steampunk novel with lots of mechanics and some strange ethics. There were both, but also a few nice surprises that I appreciated and enjoyed about this novel. I didn't know this was a series when I picked it up, but I recently got my hands on the second installment and I'll let you know if it's worth picking up. This book can stand alone if you just want something fun to read. Col is a character who, like most of us, has ideas of what he'd like the world to be like, but has a hard time making those ideas reality. The more he finds out about what the truth really is, the more he realizes that things should change, but how can he turn his back on everything? On his future? It takes this kid a long time and a huge shove to get him to act, which is how most people are I think. I liked Col. Riff was a little harder to understand, but mysterious and strong which balances Col very well. Gread read if you like science fiction/steampunk novels.

I give it a 3 1/2 out of 5

Introvert Power

By Laurie Helgoe

 Embrace the power inside you.

 Are you an introvert? Psychologist and introvert Laurie Helgoe reveals that more than half of all Americans are. Introverts gain energy and power through reflection and solitude. Our culture, however, is geared toward the extrovert. The pressure to enjoy parties, chatter, and interactions can lead people to think that an inward orientation is a problem instead of an opportunity.

 Helgoe shows that the exact opposite is true: Introverts can capitalize on this inner source of power. Introvert Power is a groundbreaking call for an introvert renaissance, a blueprint for how introverts can take full advantage of this hidden strength in daily life. Supplemented by the voices of several introverts, Helgoe presents a startling look at introvert numbers, influence and economic might.

 Introvert power includes ideas for how introverts can learn to:

  • Claim private space
  • Carve out time to think
  • Bring a slower tempo into daily life
  • Create breaks in conversation and relationships
  • Deal effectively with parties, interruptions, and crowds

Usually I'm not one to read self-help sorts of books, thinking that most of them are simply oppinion and not really going to help long-term, but this book was both enlightening and really changed the way I see myself. I'm one of the many introverts out there who loathes getting stuck in social events and then feels pathetic when I just have to leave a party because I'm going crazy because I can't think. This book teaches introverts how to live in an extrovert world, and how to be assertively introverted and like exactly who they are and see why it's a great thing to be an introvert. It's nice to have somebody tell you that you aren't insane for craving alone time and feeling like you're unraveling when you don't get it. Basic difference between extroverts and introverts: Extroverts get energized from being around people- the more the better, while introverts get that grounding and energy from ideas and solitude. So nice to finally understand that I'm not abnormal and weird and that being introverted IS NOT A BAD THING!!!!

4 1/2 out of 5 (Because I no longer feel like I have to fake extroversion!)

Dragon Slippers

By Jessica Day George

 When Creel’s aunt sacrifices her to a dragon, Creel refuses to wait for a knight to rescue her. After bargaining for her escape and winning a pair of blue slippers from the dragon’s hoard, Creel sets out to find her own fortune in the king’s city. Along the route, she meets and befriends another dragon, who helps her find her way. But when she arrives in the city, strange things start to happen, and Creel realizes that her mysterious slippers are more than just a pair of shoes.

So the summariy really doesn't do this book justice. I've read one other book by Ms. George and I absolutely loved it (Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow) and I now know that I really like her books. Dragon Slippers is the first in a trilogy and I really loved it. I'm a sucker for dragon books though, and this didn't disappoint. I adored the author's version of dragon hoards, which was (in my humble oppinion) ingenious and delightful. Creel herself is a no-nonsense girl who just wants to be a dressmaker and gets herself into all kinds of trouble without meaning to. The dragons in this book are wonderful and I fell in love with Shardas and laughed an Feniul. If you enjoy the styles of Shannon Hale or Gail Carson Levine, you'll love Jessica Day George. Give it a go!

4 out of 5 stars

The True Meaning of Smekday

By Adam Rex

 It all starts with a school essay.
When twelve-year-old Gratuity ("Tip") Tucci is assigned to write five pages on "The True Meaning of Smekday" for the National Time Capsule contest, she's not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens - called Boov - abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it "Smekland" (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?
In any case, Gratuity's story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity's mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.
Fully illustrated with "photos," drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel by a remarkable new talent.

This is a story about aliens. Kind of. Well, it's more the story of Gatuity Tucci and how she survived the alien invasion that just happened to occur on Christmas Day and the months following. Basically it's a journey story and a friendship story. The Boov are the aliens, who happen to be pretty nice all things considered, and they take over the planet. Funny thing is Tip meets this lone Boov (named J. lo) on her way to Florida (where all humans in the U.S. are ordered to live now) and ends up taking him along for the ride. Tip's perspective is pretty funny and allows her to tell about the bad stuff, the weird stuff, and the downright hilarious in an awesome perspective. Fun read, if a little slow at times. There is some language, but Gratuitiy always appologizes when she swears. :)

I give it a 3 out of 5

Tyger Tyger

By Kersten Hamilton

Teagan Wylltson’s best friend, Abby, dreams that horrifying creatures—goblins, shapeshifters, and beings of unearthly beauty but terrible cruelty—are hunting Teagan. Abby is always coming up with crazy stuff, though, so Teagan isn’t worried. Until Finn Mac Cumhaill arrives, with his killer accent and a knee-weakening smile. Either he’s crazy or he’s been haunting Abby’s dreams, because he’s talking about goblins, too . . . and about being born to fight all goblin-kind. Finn knows a thing or two about fighting. Which is a very good thing, because this time, Abby’s right. The goblins are coming.

Sooo...goblins. I've only read one other series that even explored goblins in a light I enjoyed, and that was The Hollow Kingdom series by Clare Dunkle. This was really interesting and had a fun romance story and mystery in it. It's harder to review this book without giving way too many spoilers that would ruin it. Suffice it to say, this was an enjoyable read and I've already got my hands on book 2 and look forward to how Teagan deals with her newfound knowledge. Also it's a cool tribute to William Blake. :)

I give it a solid 3 1/2 out of 5  (Just because I was sincerely entertained)

Dead End in Norvelt

By Jack Gantos

 Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mother loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with an unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels…and possibly murder.

This book was fun to read...a little difficult to continue to read simply because I wasn't used to reading this genre. It's a creative take on non-fiction of the author's life in the small town of Norvelt, founded by first lady Roosevelt herself. This book is pretty hilarious in a lot of different ways. Jack has a best friend who happens to be a tom-boyish girl that lives in a funeral parlor. He often gets stuck between his Mom and Dad, who tell him to do opposite things, and then he gets grounded 'forever' for obeying one over the other. Not only that, but Jack gets nosebleeds whenever he gets stressed, so even if he wanted to lie about some things he can't without the dead giveaway of blood all over his shirt. The fun of this story is that I can see it all is infinitely more strange than we believe until we look back at our experiences. My favorite part is when this little old lady thinks Jack is the Grim Reaper and asks him to come back next week! Great fun to read.

I give it a 3 1/2 out of 5