Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Merlin's Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton

     This is a new version of the tale of Arthur in the perspective of the Fey. Niviene is the daughter of the Lady of the Lake in Avalon. She lives with her mother, Nimway, and her brother, Lugh, in the woods away from most of the other Fey. Niviene is head-strong and very proud of her Fey heritage. Eventually she is pulled into the human world for more than some fun. Arthur's kingdom is in danger from a Saxon invasion so Niviene agrees to help as Merlin's apprentice.

     I liked this book for the most part, but I do admit that it was extremely slow to start. I couldn't really relate to Niviene or her fellow Fey for the first half of the book. Niviene was too conceited, too closed-off. It was difficult to get inside her head, if that makes any sense. Merlin's Harp wasn't really my thing, but there were some great things about it and I'm sure some people would love it.
     I thought the underlying moral of Merlin's Harp was insightful though. Being yourself was always important to Niviene and I think she did a great job maintaining the true image of herself. She didn't allow the ideas of others to change her. Although, Niviene was a bit naive at times.
     My favorite character was definitely Merlin. He was so wise, but he could make mistakes just like the rest of us. He was also truly humble and compassionate. Throughout the novel, Niviene learned so much from Merlin and his ways.
     Rating: 5
     You can find this book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

If Only I Could Drive!

     The sad fact is, my permit has long been expired and I can't afford insurance for my license. What does this have to do with books and their reviews, you may ask? Well, another disappointing fact is that I only have two more books to read. The rest are either packed or I've already read recently.
     Either way, I must decide which to read:

     Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev               or               Sunshine by Robin McKinley

     Thank goodness for my friends, otherwise I would have no books what so ever! I'm thinking it's time to make my mom take me to the library...

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

     John Tyree was bored with his life after high school, so he joined the army. He does well in the army and advances. On a two-week leave, he goes home to Wilmington, North Carolina where he meets Savannah Lynn Curtis. She knocks her purse off the pier into the ocean and John heroically jumps in after it. Through the rest of his vacation, John and Savannah grow closer and fall in love. Savannah vows that she will wait until his time in the army is up. What no one knows is that 9/11 will happen, leaving John to sign up for another two years. Through it all, they learn what true love actually means. 

     I've heard great things about this book, and, of course, there is now a movie out. Everyone says that it's a beautiful love story. So, I read it. I can't say that I really agreed with the raving comments about it. Don't get me wrong though, it wasn't a terrible book, but it just wasn't for me. I am a sucker for love stories though, and this one still made me swoon a bit.
     I couldn't see Dear John going anywhere. It seemed to just be wandering, telling about some of John's life, but with no definite plot line. It did pick up though, after he met Savannah. Who doesn't love when people fall for each other? That's right, no one.
     I think my favorite person was John's father. He was a quiet man who stuck stubbornly to his routines. At times it may have seemed as if he didn't love his son, but that was utterly untrue. Maybe he couldn't show his affection the way most people do, but he did the best he could for John none the less.
     I also loved Savannah. She was witty and kind. She was also beyond compassionate. The whole reason she was in Wilmington that summer was because she was working with Habitat for Humanity. Savannah is so passionate about her work too. She truly wants to help people. I understood her quite well. In fact, I can almost see myself as a college student like Savannah in a few years. She isn't a party girl but she doesn't look down on those who are.
     Dear John was a good book, just not my favorite. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes love stories.
     Rating: 4.5
     You can find Dear John at almost any store that sells books.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

     So, as promised, here is my review of The Book Thief.

     Liesel Meminger lives in Nazi Germany. As Hitler and his party rise to power, Liesel is sent to the foster home of Rosa and Hans Hubermann. On the way her younger brother dies and Liesel steals her first book at his funeral. Her foster father teaches her to read. Liesel's obsession with books continues and she is soon stealing them more often.
     Living in Germany at this time is perilous, so when Liesel's family hides a Jew they have to be even more cautious. Words are more important than ever.   

     This was one of the best books I have read in a while! Even as the book compelled me to continue reading, I had to stop and let everything sink in. Zusak is able to make each sentence full of meaning and emotion. I rarely cry while reading books, honestly, but I'll admit that The Book Thief did me in. I wasn't wailing like a baby or anything, but I could still feel the lump forming in the back of my throat and tears welling in my eyes.
     When I wasn't reading, I kept thinking about how I would describe the style Zusak used in this book. It's actually harder than you might think to explain. The words had a good flow to them but simultaneously seemed to stutter. It served his purpose though. The narrator, as you will see (I'm not spoiling this one, I promise), speaks to you, the reader. He/she tells you Liesel's story and the story of Himmel Street as a whole. The way the narrator explains the end before going back and explaining how it came about is intriguing.
     You have to love Liesel in this book. She has such a strong, warm heart. She is also quite wise for someone so young. More than that, though, she shares my love of reading. She explains how it comforts you and how sometimes the book you are reading reveals things about your own life at that time.
     Words mean so much in this book. The words convince people, sway them, to do things that they might not have otherwise. They are what holds everything together.
     Rating: 10

     You can find The Book Thief at Amazon and Books a Million.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What I'm thinking...

     I'm almost finished with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and I just had to express a few feelings about it before the real review. It is amazing so far! Zusak manages to put so much emotion into every line and you feel Liesel's (the main character) pain, joy and fear as your own.
     His style of writing was a bit foreign and strange at first, but I soon got used to it. Some of the sentences seem fragmented, but as it turns out, that only adds to the book.
     I'm planning on having a review up by tomorrow!

~Off to finish reading,

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

     “‘I don’t want to have fun! I want some answers!’ I blurted without meaning to – the crazy girl talking back to her little Voice.” The absurdly annoying Voice inside her head is just one of 14 year old Max’s many problems in James Patterson’s fascinating novel Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment. That isn’t including the fact that she is a human-avian hybrid, otherwise a mutant freak, or that those who mutated her are now after her, and her family. In her childhood, Max was subjected to cruel experimentation at a place called the School until a whitecoat, Jeb Batchelder, helped her and several other bird hybrids to escape. When he mysteriously disappears, assumed dead by Max and the flock, Max is suddenly left as leader. Then, Erasers, half-man half-wolf, show up to kill them. As you are engrossed in Maximum Ride, find out just how much imminent death one person can experience and what Max is meant to do.

     Max is the best thing about the novel, even the neat plot twists can’t compare. She is cool, sarcastic, and generally an interesting character. James Patterson really makes her come alive; it is almost as if she is standing next to me telling her story. Just about anyone can understand where she is coming from, and relate. Sometime in our lives, usually in our teens (oh, dear!), we feel out of place, but Max always feels like that. Her entire life is about fighting just to see the light of day once more, never knowing what life will throw at her next. Despite death knocking on her front door (if she actually had one), Max can laugh, have some fun, and care about others.
     The unsuspected plot twists and the interesting characters make this a great read. I really love the book and how much Max truly cares about others, even though her own hardships are more than enough for anyone to handle. Maximum Ride is a fast-paced and suspenseful science fiction novel. If you are having a hard time finding a book to entertain you, this is it! I warn you though, you will stay up all night just to see what comes next, so don’t blame me when you fall asleep in one of your boring classes. 
     Rating: 9
     Find the first book in the Maximum Ride series anywhere from Amazon to Walmart.    

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

     When Jenna wakes up from a coma, she doesn't remember anything about the previous 17 years of her life or the horrendous accident that put her into the hospital. She tries desperately to remember who she was and to be the Jenna that her parents want her to be. Jenna can't shake the feeling that, despite the countless home videos and pieces of information her parents have shown her, she isn't getting the whole story. So, as she begins to find her memories she also searches for answers.

     I was caught up in Jenna's struggles from the beginning. She is naive but quickly learns not to accept everything she is told as truth. Jenna becomes self-reliant because she must, but she can't shake the need to get the approval of her parents. Who can honestly say they have never wanted to please someone in their lives? 
     Jenna's most difficult lesson to learn seemed to be the meaning of humanity. What does it mean to be human? I have blue-green eyes and curly brown hair. I have a brother and a sister, a mother and a father. I have a name, a birthday, and blood running through my veins. Does that make me human? Maybe our physical appearances don't actually have much to do with our humanity, maybe what really bonds us together as men and women is our ability to love. Our consciences and emotions, the intangible things, make us human. 
     The Adoration of Jenna Fox was engaging. It made you think beyond what was being said. I loved how Pearson was able to develop Jenna so thoroughly by the end of the novel.
     Rating: 8.5
     If you'd like to find this book, check out these places: Amazon and Books a Million.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb

     Calder is a Fetch, an escort of sorts. He delivers souls who have just died to Heaven. He waits at their 'Death Door' until they choose life or death, then opens the door into the 'Aisle of Unearthing' and guides the soul through the different elements of the Aisle until he hands them over at the 'Great River'.
     Calder makes a mistake and unleashes lost souls into the living world during the Russian Revolution. He must make things right and save Ana (Anastasia) and Alexis.

     I just finished The Fetch this morning, and I must say, I loved it. Although, The Fetch was excessively confusing during the first part, in my opinion at least. Whether the confusion resulted from the new world Laura Whitcomb created or from my lack of genius I'm not sure. I would be willing to bet on the latter reason. ;) I actually didn't think I would enjoy the book because I couldn't understand the beginning. As it turned out, the novel became increasingly interesting and I fell in love with the characters. I also figured out what had been happening at first as the book progressed.
     I thought the author truly mixed the supernatural and historical elements beautifully. Calder is an unearthly being who is thrust into some of the horrors happening on earth during the revolution in Russia. The book manages to make these terrors fresh in your mind. How could you murder an entire family, royal or otherwise, in cold blood? Can love thrive so wonderfully in a dire situation and then die afterwards?
     More than anything, this book makes you realize what it means - and what it takes - to forgive. Ana, Alexis and Calder all must learn to forgive in order to move on. It also shows the importance of your memories. Although you don't always realize it, your experiences make you who you are. Calder learns this lesson through the course of the book. This is a book well-worth getting through the start of.
     Rating: 7
     Get The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb at Amazon or Books a Million.

Catching Fire: A sequel to The Hunger Games

     Somehow Katniss managed to get out of the Games alive, but not alone. Peeta made it too, only because they broke the rules. Only one tribute was supposed to survive, so the fact that both are victors is like a slap in the face to the government.
     On top of her worries of being the possible flame to the fire of rebellion, Katniss must try to figure out her feelings about everything. How does she really feel about Peeta? Was it all a show for the cameras? Who would she choose if she had to: Peeta or Gale?
     Katniss has more than enough to deal with in this book, and the hits just keep coming. Suzanne Collins delivers an enticing sequel to The Hunger Games that kept me guessing until the very end.
     I think I love Cinna more than ever in this novel. He was a great character in the first book, but he was able to develop even further as this book continued. I thought it was amazing how he defied the Capitol, despite the risks, in his own way. You figure out just why Katniss confides in him in this book. Cinna is a reliable friend and a wonderful stylist. He even goes as far as to create a fashion wardrobe for Katniss as her 'talent'.
     As Katniss, I can't decide who I like better: Peeta or Gale. Both are an essential part of Katniss' life. Peeta is kind and is so obviously in love with Katniss, but Gale was there for her for years. She could relate to Gale in ways Peeta could never imagina, and vice versa.
     Rating: 10
     Catching Fire can be found in bookstores everywhere such as Amazon, Walmart and Books a Million.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

     I first read The Hunger Games last year. I checked it out from the school library after one of my friends recommended it and I couldn't put it down. From the very first page I was hooked. Class? Homework? Chores? There was no chance that I would be doing any of this. :)

     The story opens on the day of reaping, a day dreaded by almost everyone in the country of Panem, all except for those in the Capitol. Katniss Everdeen is 16 years old and when her baby sister, Prim, is chosen for the Games, she takes her place. The Games pit Katniss against 23 other 'tributes' in a fight to the death. 

     Suzanne Collins has definitely outdone herself in writing this novel. I love that it has a bit of everything in it: adventure, suspense, love and futuristic gadgets. The Hunger Games truly makes you think as well.
     Katniss has had practice surviving in harsh conditions, ever since her father died, and she will need every bit of that if she wants to go home to Prim again. The problem is that it isn't that simple. How do you kill someone? How can you live with yourself afterward?
     The jacket cover says that The Hunger Games has "unsettling parallels to our present." I never realized just what they meant by this until I reread the book a few weeks ago. In my opinion, the Capitol resembles developed countries such as those in Western Europe and North America. Within the book residents of the Capitol are quite naive and even selfish. They live with full bellies and nearly anything they want. The Games are entertainment for them. The rest of Panem starves to death and has to send their children to die. What kind of people must they be to find that enjoyable to watch? What kind of government slowly kills its country?
     Rating: 10
     The Hunger Games is a fantastic read. You can find it nearly everywhere including WalmartBooks a Million and Amazon.