Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Artemis Fowl 8: The Last Guardian

By Eoin Colfer

Seemingly nothing in this world daunts the young criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl. In the fairy world, however, there is a small thing that has gotten under his skin on more than one occasion: Opal Koboi. In The Last Guardians, the evil pixie is wreaking havoc yet again. This time his arch rival has somehow reanimated dead fairy warriors who were buried in the ground of Fowl Manor. Their spirits have possessed Artemis’s little brothers, making his siblings even more annoying than usual. The warriors don’t seem to realize that the battle they were fighting when they died-a battle against Artemis—is long over. Artemis has until sunrise to get the spirits to vacate his brothers and go back into the earth where they belong. Can he count on a certain LEPrecon fairy to join him in what could well be his last stand?

The last book of Artemis Fowl. (Sad face) I was excited for it, but wanted to prolong it as much as possible. I admit though, it wasn't nearly as bad as the Harry Potter withdrawal. In my opinion, after the fifth book it sort of went downhill from there. This last book was a major improvement from The Atlantis Complex, which I was consternated with due to Artemis's strange personality disorder...funny but also a little too out of the line of what I expect from Artemis Fowl. This last book was great, though I was a little disappointed that the villan was once again Opal, whom I detest as a character. I liked much better the unknown villans that took Artemis by surprise and kept me guessing. Holly and Artemis are an awesome pair, and who can forget Butler, the greatest in the world? I wish that Artemis's little brothers weren't posessed almost the whole book, I was looking forward to the interactions between the brothers. As is proper, Artemis Fowl impresses and soars in his final adventure. See you Arty, it's been exceptional.

4 out of 5

One of Ours

By Willa Cather

Cather’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel explores the life of Claude Wheeler, a young Nebraskan who refuses to settle for a life others have imagined for him. Alienated from his parents and rejected by his wife, Wheeler finally finds his destiny on the bloody battlefields of World War I.

I cannot tell you how frustrated I was reading this book. Now, I liked it, but I was so sucked into the character's lives that I wanted to shout at Claude frequently...."NO! You stupid idiot! Don't marry her!" He frustrated me to no end, but I couldn't hate him, much as I sometimes wanted to. This book, like all of Cather's works is a great character central book, and deals with being true to yourself and not just folding in to percieved duty and responsibility. This book won a pulitzer, mostly because it was thought patriotic, having been placed at the time of World War I. Frankly, I was much more interested in the story before Claude goes to war, when he gets to France my interested waned quite a bit as I read. The ending was awesome though.

I give it a 3 3/4 out of 5

Amazing Spider-man 1-40

By Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Everybody knows who Spider-man is, whether it’s from the latest movie release, or if you’ve been a fan since the beginning in 1962 with the release of Amazing Fantasy. Marvel Masterworks began releasing the original comics from Stan “the man” Lee himself and the innovative art of Steve Ditko.  The first 4 volumes feature the origin story of young Peter Parker, a kid who wasn’t rich, wasn’t popular, and wasn’t without a myriad of regular every-day problems—the very things which made him a phenomenon and help him remain as one of the favorite superheroes of today.
Read along with Peter’s adventures of getting the hang of dealing with Super powers and being a teenager who gets razzed by Flash Thompson, and has to find ways to help pay the mortgage on top of fighting bizarre characters like Doctor Octopus, Molten Man, the Enforcers, and The Lizzard. How can a guy get a date with anyone when he has to worry about keeping evil at bay on a school night?

I cannot tell you how long I have wanted to read the original comic books by Stan Lee about my favorite superhero. I wasn't disappointed. Sure they're out-dated and the lines are definately from the 60's at times, and I don't understand a lot of the specific name references, but holy smokes did I have a blast! I laugh at poor Peter's problems (that was a good alliteration!) with affection and zeal as he masters the everyday problems facing your all too average teenager. All Peter wants is to have fun as Spider-man, get recognized as a hero, and maybe get a date every once in a while without spider-man butting in! Not to mention taking care of his Aunt May and the many bills to pay. I had so much fun reading about little-known villans and getting to see Spidey square off again the Human Torch and see cameos from Dr. Strange, the Fantastic Four, and the Hulk. I was totally captivated by the story I love. Stan, you really are the man! Excelcior! :)

A Tale of Two Castles

By Gail Carson Levine

Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner—an actress—but the master of the troupe turns her away. Brilliant dragon Meenore takes her in, then sends her on a dangerous mission within an ogre’s castle. There, disguised as a kitchen maid, she plays the role of a lifetime, pitted against a foe intent on murder.
Black-and-White cats, a handsome cat trainer, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon…Elodie must discover which of them is kind, which is cruel, and, most of all, which is the one who deserves her trust.

This was another little gem in Levine's growing list of young adult fiction. Elodie, like all her heroines, is spunky, fun, and brave. Throwing a dragon in that happens to be just like Sherlock Holmes was pretty hilarous and wonderful. Elodie has to worry about who to trust; who exactly is the "whited seplechre" her mother warned her about when she left home? Elodie learns along the way that appearances aren't always what they seem, and beauty isn't always a sign of goodness. The only criticism I have, and really it's just my taste, is I was sad it didn't have a love story in it. Elodie was quite a bit too young though, so I forgive her.

3 out of 5

The Professor's House

By Willa Cather

Professor Godfrey St. Peter, a man in his 50’s, has achieved what would seem to be remarkable success, but when he is called on by family and social duty to move to a more comfortable home, something in him rebels.

So I probably never would have read this book, or proabaly any book by Willa Cather, if it hadn't been my only choice for a required major authors class for university. I have been plesantly surprised by how much I enjoy Cather's works, but The Professor's House is my favorite, with O Pioneers! a close second. The thing about Cather that made me leery of reading her books was that I had heard they were boring as all get out. To be honest, if you don't read a big chunk of them right at the start, they will drag too much and you won't get a feel for the characters or the story. The Professor's House is so enthrawling to me because it is all about a man and his family and how they deal with the sudden upswing in their material fortunes in life. It's intriguing and very personal view of how people change when they can get what they want, or watch other people they love get what they want. It's a story, mostly about Godfrey St. Peter, and how he goes through a sort of mid-life crisis. He feels useless and un-needed.  I loved St. Peter from the start because he reminded me of myself, and I could see so many of my own good and bad qualitites in him. I understood him, so I fell in love with his predicament. 

I give this a 4 out of 5. 

Brotherband 2: The Invaders

By John Flanagan

 As champions of the Brotherband competition, Hal and the rest of the Herons were given on simple assignment: safeguard the Skandians most sacred artifact, the Andomal.

They failed.

To redeem themselves, the Herons must track down the thief Zavac and his pirate crew and recover the Andomal. But that means traversing stormy seas, surviving a bitter winter, and battling a group of deadly bandits willing to protect their prize at all costs.

It took me quite a while to get my hands on the second installment of the Brotherband series, and now the third one is out and I am once again behind! At least I know I've got a good book waiting for me at all times.  This second book is great, we pick up with Hal and the crew of the Heron where we left them searching for the Andomal. While a little slow at times, Flanagan does an excellent job at describing the seamanship and training the boys go through in their quest and I was interested if not enthrawlled the entire time. True to form, this book has a great adventure tacked on and ingenuity abounds as Hal must figure out how to help a city get their town back from the terrible pirate Zavac and his men. You see more character development in this book and get to like everyone better, though I still hold a major bias and say that Ranger's Apprentice holds a pretty special place in my heart...along with Will, Halt, and Horace. :)

I give it a 3 1/2 out of 5

Dragon Spear

By Jessica Day George

With peace established between the humans and the dragons, young couple Creel and Luka are planning their wedding. But then the dragon queen, Velika, is kidnapped by a band of rogue dragons in need of a ruler. When Creel and Luka rush to help, they discover that Luka’s father has plans to take back the Far Islands from the dragons. Creel’s happily ever after just might be postponed…again.

This is the third book in the Dragon Slippers trilogy and it is just as fun as the first two books. This series is simply delightful to read; I fell in love with Shardas from the get-go and slowly but surely warmed up to Creel and her wit and down-to-earth sensabilities. This last installment of the series is great fun for fans because while there is a whole lot going on, you keep wondering if Luka and Creel will FINALLY get married! Now don't get me wrong, but for me, the first book is the best of them all and the other two feel more like books written for the fans rather than the progression of the plot. It's still a good read, but not as magical as that first book was.

I give it a solid 3 out of 5