Friday, August 29, 2008

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

For those of you who haven't heard, a copy of Midnight Sun has been leaked on the Internet. Needless to say Stephanie Meyer is PO'd. Below is a link to her site where you can read her comments on the subject. She has decided to post her version (about 264 pages) of Midnight Sun on her site. In her post she says she will not continue writing the story, so I guess we just have to enjoy the 264 pages and hope that once things calm down she will continue the story.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

An orphan, Garion is left in the care of his Aunt Pol, spending his days in her kitchen and playing with his friends. He is logical and doesn’t believe in magic. He is haunted by a stranger who silently watches him as he grows up. As he turns fourteen the wise storyteller Wolf appears and convinces Garion and Aunt Pol to come away with him. Without knowing why Garion is taken away from the only home he has ever known and thrown into a mysterious adventure with strange new people. A quest has begun to stop an evil from destroying the world. Garion will soon discover his past, present and future, and also a new appreciation for the magic he refuses to believe in.

I started out really liking this book; I thought it would be a good fantasy novel. I think if I had been able to sit and read it from cover to cover I probably would have ended up liking it more than I did. By time I finished, I didn’t feel like too much had really happened. I didn’t like how Garion (who is 14 by the way, it took about 200 pages for them to say his exact age), was kept ignorant throughout the whole book, which to me ended up making him kind of whiney. There were so many different groups of people, so it was hard to keep track of everyone. I felt like I almost had to get a scrap of paper to keep track of everyone. Again, it ended without too much happening, and although you can tell what is going on or what will happen there were a lot of unanswered questions. There are two more books in the Belgariad series, I think I will read them and maybe as a whole I will enjoy it more.

I just wanted to add… I’ve read some reviews that compare this story to Harry Potter. This book was published in 1982, long before Harry Potter, so if anything Rowling got her ideas from this book. It is similar in that Garion is an orphan left in the care of his aunt. Although it doesn’t say it in the first book, it appears he will have some magical abilities. Another similarity is that the bad guy in the book is not named, instead of calling him “he-who-must-not-not-be-named” they just say that they can’t say his name. In the end though, they are totally different stories that just happen to have some similarities.
Reviewed by: Kathy

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

This is a story of the two princesses of Bamarre, Meryl and Addie. Meryl has dreams of ridding the kingdom of dragons, specters, and ogres. Addie is just the opposite. She is fearful of everything, especially spiders and depends on her older sister for courage. When the mysterious illness, Gray Death, takes Meryl, Addie becomes determined to find the unknown cure by leaving the kingdom all alone. Rhys, a sorcerer, outfits her with a magical cloak and a tablecloth that produces food on demand. Other friends give her precious gifts that she will need to accomplish her mission before her sister dies. She sets out on her own and must travel across her world to find the cure, meeting gryphons, specters and dragons along the way.

I enjoyed this story, I think it was meant for a younger audience than I am use to reading. I kept thinking throughout the book that if I was 12-13 I would probably love this story. I enjoyed the idea of the story, but did feel a little let down. I thought there was too much time spent at the castle at the beginning of the story. Anyone could tell what was going to happen, and I was looking forward to Addie beginning her journey. The journey wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be, and because of the magical gifts she received she was able to avoid most obstacles placed before her. I also felt that the relationship/courtship between Rhys and Addie’s wasn’t fully developed. The ending felt a little rushed, and a lot of new stories were introduced too late. I would have enjoyed if there was a few more chapters added to really explain the story and also the relationship with Rhys and Addie. Unlike some young adult books, this one was definitely written for young readers, and certain aspects of the story weren’t as developed as I would have liked.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

An Inconvenient Book by Glenn Beck

I very rarely read non-fiction books. I think of reading as an escape from everyday life and problems, but lately I have felt like I need a break from the predictable fiction books I've been reading so I branched out and decided to read, An Inconvenient Book by Glenn Beck. Beck has a TV show on CNN and an AM radio show and he is know for his conservatism and common sense approach to our country's problems. He flys in the face of political correctness and isn't afraid to call evil by the name. He is a hilarious writer and presents even the heaviest of topics in a readable and light way. There are lots of little nuggets of information in the margins, like ADD moments, Islamic Terrorist say the Darndest things, and Liberal Brain Teasers that make reading it fun and fast-paced. Just because he is a Conservative doesn't mean he is Republican and he believes, as do I, that we all should hold ALL politicians to a higher standard than they are held presently. He has some really heavy chapters that, thankfully, he has broken up with some really funny topics like whether or not a man should wear a toupee, to how tipping has gotten out of control, to how to remember names. The following chapters were my favorite and I recommend if nothing else reading them.

Global Warming, Storming, and Conforming

Radical Islam: Politically Incorrect

America's Oil Dependence: The Peak of Stupidity

Media Bias: An All-New Fairness Doctrine

You Can't Say That! The Politics of Correctness

Child Molesters: A Fiery Solution

The UN: Truth, Justice, and the Anti-American Way

Illegal Immigration: Behind the Lies

If you love America and sometimes wonder if you still live in America then I suggest reading this book. A word of caution. Being ignorant IS bliss and some things you learn in the book will stress you out if you share my DNA and worry a lot. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. If you like this book, or non-fiction in general, I also recommend Freakanomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side to Everything by Stephen D Levitt. I have a BS in Economics so maybe that's why I enjoyed this book so much but seriously you don't have to be a geek to enjoy it. No, I swear!
Reviewed by: Jessica

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How To Be Popular by Meg Cabot

Who doesn’t want to be popular? Especially someone like Stephanie Landry, who has been the school outcast since the sixth grade Super big Gulp incident. Yes, that’s right in sixth grade she tripped and spilled her red big gulp on the most popular girl in school…Lauren. So when Stephanie comes across a book “How to Be Popular”, she just can’t help herself. All she has to do is follow the simple suggestions in The Book and soon everyone will be eating out of her hands. Leaving behind her best friend Jason, who has stood by her and been her true friend since Kindergarten.

This book is pretty much what you would expect, an unpopular girl who wants the quarterback to fall madly in love with her. She tries to transform herself so that the “It” crowd will love her, along the way hurting the feelings of her true friends and missing out on true love. The story was pretty predictable, although it was a little better than similar books that I’ve read. She was able to stay true to herself and not mess things up completely. I thought some of the “popular” advice was actually good, which was pretty much to just be nice to people, listen when they talk to you, etc. I thought it had some good advice on presenting your best self, and what really matters is how you treat other people. Maybe if Stephanie had just focused on being a nice person and not worried so much about actually being popular it would have been better story, earning friendship for being truly nice and not having to make such an effort for people to like her.

It’s a good beach read, quick and lighthearted.
Reviewed by: Kathy

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

For thousands of years mystical creatures gathered at a magical refuge called Fablehaven, in order to prevent capture or extinction. The sanctuary is one of a few remaining around the world. The story follows 14 year-old Kendra and her 11 year-old brother Seth on an adventure of a lifetime. When their parents decide to go on a two week cruise they are sent to stay with grandparents they hardly know, at Fablehaven. Their grandfather is the caretaker at Fablehaven and is looking for a possible replacement. On first arrival their grandmother is nowhere to be found, they are given strict instructions, as well as a puzzle Kendra must solve. Seth has a hard time following rules and soon learns what happens to rule-breakers. Kendra and Seth face the greatest challenge of their young lives as they try to uncover the secrets of Fablehaven, without upsetting all the magical creatures that live there.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the rest of the five part series. Seth drove me a little crazy. He is one of those kids that doesn’t learn from their mistakes and constantly makes the situation worse. Course, without characters like him we wouldn’t have a story. I liked Kendra’s character, and that being obedient pays off. It was a quick read, and well written. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy-adventure.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

General Winston's Daughter by Sharon Shinn

Eighteen-year-old Averie Winston travels to Chiarrian (a distant country) to visit her father, who is a commanding General, and her fiancĂ©e Morgan. Her father has invaded the country and is working to overthrow local government and rebel forces. As she learns more about the situation and herself she realizes that Morgan is not the man that she thought he was; and slowly falls in love with Lt. Ket Du’Kai, who himself comes from a conquered society. Averie delves into the culture, wanting to learn everything she can, and forms a friendship with a local Chiarizzi girl Jalessa, who teaches her about their culture. Political resistance continues and rebels threaten colonial rule, security is heightened and tension rises.

Hmm, it is hard to say what I thought of this book. I had recently read “Summers at Castle Auburn” also by Sharon Shinn, which I loved so I thought this book sounded somewhat similar and the plot interesting, but was somewhat disappointed. I thought Averie was very childish and naive, and was hoping that her character would grow throughout the book, but she did not. It seemed like the focus of the book was more about the country of Chiarrian and their traditions/beliefs, and not on an actual story.

***Possible Spoilers***

The love story was a disappointment, it seemed like there was more interaction with Averie and Morgan than with Averie and Ket. Morgan actually seemed like a pretty decent guy who was truly in love with her, and other than his love for war, he was hard not to like. I found the relationship between Averie and Ket hard to believe because they were never together, so how could they really have fallen in love. They had nothing in common and really didn’t know each other. The romance part of it was lacking, and I think she picked the wrong guy, only for the fact that the character of Ket was underused. If she had built up their relationship I probably would have enjoyed it more and not minded her choice.

The main twist at the end was predictable and I knew from the beginning what would happen. I was still disappointed since even though Averie was immature, she was sincere in her new love for the people and country, so her betrayal was very sad.

If you like a book about politics, war and make-believe places then you will probably enjoy this story.
Reviewed by: Kathy

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

These Is My Words by Nancy Turner

This story was based on the real-life adventures of the author’s great-grandmother. It is written in diary format by the heroine Sarah Prine. It follows Sarah’s life as she struggles to adjust on the Arizona frontier. Sarah is intelligent and headstrong, but has had no formal education. Her father taught her some letters and she began to teach herself to read. Throughout her life she is always bettering herself and has a deep love of learning. It follows her life through many trials and also many happy days. The story is really about Sarah and her life, she has wonderful friends and family. There is a great love story but the focus is more on Sarah and her development.

This book at first reminded me a lot of “The Diary of Mattie Spenser,” luckily, this book was a lot better. I really enjoyed the story, even though diary format is not my favorite. I liked Sarah’s character a lot; she was feisty and knew how to take care of herself. At the same time she was girly, and playful. The combination made her more real to me. Her relationship with her husband reminded me a lot of my life married to a military man, I was able to relate with Sarah in missing her husband and not always able to understand why they have this desire to serve like they do. The book was slow at the beginning, probably took me about 60+ pages to really get into it. As the book progresses so does Sarah’s education and the writing becomes better. Once I got into it I had a hard time putting it down and kept thinking of friends that I know would love it also. If I were to re-read it I would probably enjoy the earlier chapters more, knowing what happens and what a big part they play in Sarah's life.

There were a few characters that I would have liked a little bit more resolution on, and a few story lines that I would have liked to see finished. I ended the book at peace with everything, it was a great chapter in Sarah’s life and I look forward to reading the other two books in the series.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

The Hero and the Crown by Robin Mckinley was my rebound book from the most disappointing book ever, Breaking Dawn. This book came highly recommended from a close friend and to be honest I read it just so she wouldn't bother me about it. I had read another McKinley book that I didn't like so I wasn't looking forward to reading this one. What a pleasant surprise it turned out to be. I love books with strong female characters and this book didn't disappoint in that area. Although why does it seem that every book about a herione describes her with red hair, green eyes, clumsy, and big feet? I swear I can call that from the cheap seats. There is a love story and while it doesn't drive the story it is promient enough to satisfy the romantic in all of us. The story moves along pretty well except there are long passages with no dialouge that drug on for me. I simply skimmed some of these pages and that could have contributed to my being pretty dang confused in parts. Mckinley has lyrical writting that takes your full concentration to read and understand. Since I tend to read in between other tasks or while the TV is on I had a hard time in some parts. Over-all I give it a 4 out of 5 stars and look forward to reading the companion book The Blue Sword.

Synopsis of The Hero and the Crown~

Aerin is the only child of the king of Damar, and should be his rightful heir. But she is also the daughter of a witch-woman of the North, who died when she was born, and the Damarians cannot trust her. But Aerin's destiny is greater than her father's people know, for it leads her to battle with Maur, the Black Dragon, and into the wilder Damarian Hills, where she meets the wizard Luthe. It is he who at last tells her the truth about her mother, and he also gives over to her hand the Blue Sword. But such gifts as these bear a greater price, a price Aerin only begins to realize when she faces the evil mage, Agsded, who has seized the Hero's Crown, greatest treasure and secret strength of Damar.
Reviewed by: Jessica

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

I just want to warn you that this is a long review and does contain spoilers.

I have so many mixed feelings about this book. I know how hard it is for an author to come up with a final book in a series, there are so many expectations and there is no way to make everyone happy. Having said that, give me a break! This book was crazy and definitely my least favorite of the series. The book was way too long, although I don’t mind long books if things are happening, but nothing happened for the majority of the book. I think the only reason why I kept reading was because I was so curious about what would happen with everyone.

-I enjoyed Bella and Edwards wedding. I know a lot of people are upset that they got married “so young” I am really glad they got married. When people are in love they should get married, and they definitely should be married before having sex. So, I was very glad that SM had them married before they did anything.
-Through four books Bella has gone through some pretty upsetting things, had heartbreaks and a lot of stress in her young life, so I was happy that she did get everything she wanted. She finally married Edward, became a vampire, had a baby and was able to maintain her relationship with her dad. It shows that we should have hope and that if we work hard and make the right choices that things can work out the way you want.
-I liked that Bella finally became a vampire and I enjoyed reading about her transformation and how she was able to transition. I liked that she was able to adjust so quickly. I also enjoyed that she was finally confident and was stronger than Emmett and Edward.
-Originally I was really surprised that Bella became pregnant (I didn’t think Edward had it in him, so to speak). After adjusting to the idea I liked that Bella and Edward would be parents. I also liked it because so many Jacob fans said she should go with him because she could have a family with Jacob…well Ha Ha Ha, she had a baby with Edward!
-So many people complained that Bella didn’t go to school first. Well, duh. You don’t have to chose between getting married and going to school, you can do both. Bella will live forever she can get 100 degrees if she wants. I liked that she chose to get married AND go to school, again its not one or the other and getting married doesn’t ruin your dreams.
-I liked that Bella was finally able to share her thoughts with Edward and that they were able to live happily ever after. Just remember it’s a fiction love story, so of course they should end up happily ever after!

-Jacob. I’m sorry I’m just not a fan and I was very disappointed to see a whole section written from his perspective. I don’t really care what Jacob is thinking because he only thinks one thing “I Love Bella”. I was a little sick of his obsession with her. Nothing much happened in his part, other than he imprints on Renesmee. WHAT!?! Did SM honestly have him imprint on Bella’s daughter? So Jake is the son-in-law to Edward and Bella, that’s just the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. My friend Jessica has a perfect solution to this problem…. While Bella and Edward are on their honeymoon they come across the vampire/humans and rescue a baby that was being hunted or something. They adopt the baby and bring it back with them to Forks. Jacob imprints on that kid and then Jacob and Bella can be friends and we can avoid the whole mess of Jacob falling for Bella’s daughter. (Jessica said it better than me, but you get the idea).
-I didn’t like the name Renesmee. Its hard to say, spell, remember, read, etc. I also didn’t like that if it was a boy she was going to name him “Edward Jacob”. Its like Bella has no feelings for her husband at all. You just don’t name your kids after ex-boyfriends.
-I missed Alice. She was gone for the majority of the book and mostly replaced with Rosalie. Who likes Rosalie, she is a horrible “person”, so bitter and self-centered.
-There was hardly anything going on between Edward and Bella, other than sex. The tention is gone and as Jessica says, reading about married people can be boring.
-Bella and the fake IDs. Really, what’s the point, it took up way too much time with no end result. Just a waste and pretty boring to read. I guess you add chapters like that in to make the book longer?
-There is a huge build up for the confrontation between Cullen’s and Volturi. I enjoyed all the other vampires coming into town and hearing about their special abilities. It was interesting hearing how powerful the Cullen’s are considered in the vampire world. So I was expecting a big fight when the Volturi came to town. But what happens…. NOTHING. They have a little chat and then go home.
-Although Bella’s superpower was kind of cool, I think it could have been better. Like she could have been able to absorb others powers and use them, instead she just makes a shield.

So, overall I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars. I think the Twilight series would have been better as a trilogy. It is worth reading Breaking Dawn, it kept me reading and it has been fun discussing with friends.
Reviewed by: Kathy
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