Monday, January 31, 2011

Abarat by Clive Barker


"Well, say it out loud so we can hear you! What are you?"
"I've... forgotten, sir."
"A spit-for-brain fool. Say it! Go on! Say: I'm a spit-for-brain fool, sir."
"You're a spit-for-brain fool, sir."
Wolfswinkel slammed down the telephone.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY?"

Chickentown is the most ordinary, boring town there could ever possibly be. The only "fascinating" fact about it is that it's the largest supplier of chicken meat in Minnesota.
Candy Quackenbush is not an ordinary, boring person. Candy Quackenbush should be ordinary- she lives with her ordinary mother, her ordinary brothers, and her ordinary (although abusive and alcoholic) father. She goes to an ordinary school where all the ordinary people grow up to be ordinary workers at the ordinary chicken meat factory.
But the fact remains: Candy is quite an extraordinary person.
After series of events involving a suicidal town namesake, a mysterious legend, a report, a creepy guy who for some reason wants to kill candy- and another strange man who wants to help her- Candy is swept off, literally, in an ocean to a world called Abarat.
While in Abarat, Candy learns of the different islands- each is a different time- and the people who inhabit them. She battles the "evil" of Abarat: a disturbingly fascinating person by the name of "Christopher Carrion", and much, much more.

"Oh, come on," said Candy. "We've been through this. We're in Minnesota. There is no sea in-"
Candy stopped mid-sentence. Mischief had put his hand to his mouth, hushing her.
As he did so all of his brothers looked off in one direction or another. A few were sniffing the air, others tasting it on their lips. Whatever they did and wherever they looked, they all came to the same conclusion, and together they murmured two words.
"Shape's here," they said.
My mom originally got this book (and the sequel, Days of Magic, Nights of War) on tape, several years ago. We listened to it, and I loved it. It quickly became my favorite book, and I actually listened to it several times on tape.
Last year or so, I found the book on a shelf at a book store. While I didn't get it, I paged through it and was immediately captivated by the pictures. (Yeah, these are illustrated.) They're colorful, beautiful, queer, creative, and creepy.
So, pretty much, just like the book.
I really like this book, and I'm STILL waiting for the third installment in the series. :)
Five stars out of five!

Prism by Faye Kellerman and Aliza Kellerman


"What!" I exclaimed. She patted my head and I swatted her hand away. "You got Stephen- Stephen!" I was growling again. "And you got Iggy? How'd you get both of them?"
"The good fairy must like me."
"Meaning the good fairy hates me? What'd I do to her to merit Zeke Anderson?"

Kaida has, for the fifteen years she's been on earth, taken for granted how easy it is to be cured. Of a sickness, that is. If you get a cold, you take medicine. If you're sick, you take a sick day from school. People have a heart attack? There's things to save them from that too.
That changes pretty quickly.
Being stuck on a bus with two other people (neither of which she really likes) is not her idea of fun. Being stuck on this bus going to visit caves- while she's afraid of the dark- is really not her idea of fun.
But what happens makes all of that look like a day at an amusement park.
on the way to the cave, her bus crashes and explodes. When it starts raining in a freak thunderstorm, she, the popular jock- Zeke- and the loner- Joy- hide in one of the random unexplored caves to avoid the rain. Somehow they're pulled into a puddle, and then... black.
When Kaida wakes up, it seems like she's back at home. It's all been a bad dream. But as time goes on, she finds that the life she's in is a distortion from what her life had been. There's no medicine. No doctors. No hospitals, patients, and death is considered natural.
She, Zeke, and Joy have to get out.
But is "out" an option?"
I closed my eyes and saw only red. Those horrible men had started off dressed in white, but within seconds they had been soaked in scarlet.
They weren't afraid of blood, it seemed.
Or of death, for that matter.
From what my mom has told me about Faye Kellerman's other works, I was fully expecting to read the first chapter, then find myself hiding under my bed.
Fortunately, this wasn't the case.
Instead, I read the book, in horrified interest, until the last page. The idea was interesting, and the book was well executed. It was thought provoking, and I found myself enjoying it immensely. Until the ending. The ending I had a problem with (when do I don't?), because it ended so... so... SAD. I almost cried.
But despite the ending, I'd still give this book four stars. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In Search of Mockingbird by Loretta Ellsworth

Will Dad come after me? I lied in the letter. He thinks I bought a round-trip ticket, but I only had enough money for one way. And there was another lie. I told him I was coming back.
Erin's mother died when Erin was little. Her dad doesn't talk about her, and Erin only knows a few scraps of information about her mother.
For instance: her mother loved the book "To Catch a Mockingbird". Interestingly enough, so does Erin.
The day before Erin's sixteenth birthday, her dad gives her a book. Not just any book. Her mom's diary.
All the entries captivate Erin, but one more so than in particular. "I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird. It's the best book I've ever read! I even wrote to the author. I asked her, 'How do you know if you have what it takes to be a writer?' " Immediately, Erin knows what she must do. She packs her bag, leaves her dad a note that's (mostly) truthful, and sets out on the journey that shall basically change her life.
"...Where are you going again?"
"Monroeville, Alabama," I repeat.
His eyes light up. "Great. I've never been there. What's in Monroeville?"
I look down at my journal and whisper, "Harper Lee."
I read To Kill a Mockingbird a couple months ago, but I can't say I actually thought about how I felt about it until I read this book. This fictional book, that happens to include a TON of information about the book in question.
I found myself able to relate to Erin, and the people she meets on her trip are just weird enough to be interesting, but normal enough to be believable. I got the distinct feeling while reading this that the author had actually gone and observed some of these people- though I'm not sure if she actually did. :)
I liked this book, and I'd give it four stars.

"Matched" by Ally Condie

It's Cassia's day.  A day that will literally decide her future. It's her seventeenth birthday; as well as her Matching Day. Matching Day is when the Matching banquet takes place for a girl who is seventeen or over. The Matching banquet may sound like simply a celebration, a coming of age, or some cheesy speed-dating session, but it's actually literally the time when the girl will first find out about the boy she will take her marriage contract with. Society matches the girls with boys that are ideal for them, with their genes and other data. These matches are supposed to be flawlessly executed. When Cassia is called up to see her match for the first time on the screen in front of her, and have her match announced for the first time, she is in for quite the surprise. Cassia's match is someone she knows, and someone she already loves, which never happens. In a dystopia of a 'perfect' society where no one get's to be very different an no one has choices, weird things are beginning to happen. Signs of imperfection are beginning to appear. The first begins when Cassia goes home to view her information on her match (although she already knows him) and another face appears....

This book, was amazing! It is one of my new favorite books and I look forward to the sequel, "Crossed" (due out in November!). I'll give this one 5 stars. It wasn't necessarily perfect, but nothing is. It's not necessarily fast paced, but it sort of is because it's different and fresh, and you won't want to put it down. It has surprises, it has romance, it has SO much emotion, and it's just written... beautifully. And I liked how it was kind of complicated and intricate in a good way. The only things that kind of ever bothered me was that I think the description of Ky should have been cut in half so we could hear about Xander more too- just because I think I'd rather of had a full background on both of them- but I also realize it's kind of because Cassia takes Xander and his life... for granted? Well, anyway, no more- I'll spoil the whole thing, but READ THIS BOOK :D
Find more info on "Matched" and read an excerpt here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Daniel X: Demons and Druids by James Patterson & Adam Sadler

Daniel X is back for the third adventure in the series (btw, review for the second one is here). This time, he's trying to track down Number Three on the list of aliens. This one's on fire. He controls fire and everything, so he'll be a difficult enemy. Daniel can time travel and has found new skills- but is also finding his powers harder to control. Will him and his friends defeat Number Three on the list, and be alive to tell the tale?

As cheesy as I just made that description- it was pretty good! I think it was my favorite out of the series, actually. Packed with action and some surprises- very fast-paced read, exciting and awesome. I'll give it 4 stars! You should read itttt. I think there was more to the story then there usually is in the Daniel X books too. Plus the fact that it was the fire alien dude this time, there was fire. That's exciting- right!?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith


She'd grown used to her family underestimating her. It was like this with everything. Emma had never even been allowed so much as a hamster, because her parents always insisted she was too irresponsible to care for a pet. Instead she'd had to make do with a series of seemingly suicidal goldfish, whose rapid succession of deaths did little to help her case in lobbying for a puppy.
Emma has one of those brilliant, abnormal, eccentric families. Unfortunately for Emma, she's too normal to fit with her family, but too abnormal to fit with anyone else. So she's learned to stand back, and watch. To feign interest. She's always felt left out of her family, and she figures it's normal (after all, all her siblings are mostly in their 30s).
Until she goes up to the attic to find her dad a book.
Hidden in a box filled with photographs, is another box containing a birth certificate for "Thomas Quinn Healy", dated the same day as Emma's, and a death certificate dated two days later, also for Thomas.
Now that Emma knows that she has a twin- or had a twin-, she's inexplicably determined to visit him. Visit his grave.
So she steals her brother's car, and sets off on an epic road trip from New York to North Carolina.
At least, it's epic until the car breaks down. She turns to the only person who she can- Peter, her map-and-civil-war obsessed next door neighbor, who's hiding secrets of his own.
Peter, Emma, and a stray dog that they pick up (or maybe the dog picked them up) set off on a road trip that's not only a trip of geography, but a trip of emotions.
"I'm sorry; I just-"
"And taking that car!"
"That wasn't exactly me," Emma began, but was interrupted again.
"Excuse me?" Mom said. "You think Patrick's car marched itself out of New York City on it's own?"
"Oh
that car," she said dully. "I meant the other one-"
"Don't even get me started on
that,"
This was a fantastical book.
According to my sister Valerie, it sounds "incredibly boring," but let me assure you. It is far from that. The plot might be fairly basic, and the characters weren't as original as some I have read about, but the emotion the author puts into this book- and the random facts (did you know that "okay" originated during the Civil War?)- made this book come to life. I'd give it four stars.
Peter had never kissed a girl before, and he had great admiration for those who did it so casually. To him it seemed a feat more difficult than jumping out of an airplane, or sailing around the world.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Amazing Grace by Megan Shull


"Try it!" She dares me.
And it's weird, because normally, normally I am not the type of girl who does crazy high-rish, illegal activities. I'm more of the seat-belt wearing, rule-following, stressing sort. After four years of professional tennis, I have several advanced degrees in crying, throwing up, and stressing myself to sleep. So, I don't know, maybe it's my new haircut, or the pierced nose, or maybe this Emily O'Brien chick has taken over my body and she's braver than me.
You know the "it" celebrities. The ones who are always staring at you from the cover of the magazine. The perfect ones. The ones that everyone wants to be like.
Grace is one of the it ones.
Until, escaping the paparazzi, escaping the tennis match she was in, escaping the photo shoot... she drops out of existence.
No, she didn't die.
She had a make-under, threw away all her stupid expensive junk, and moved to Alaska. At least for three months. At least until it's safe for her to come back and live with her mom.
She lives in a little cabin (a rustic one, not one of those super deluxe ones) with a woman named Ava, who looks like Julia Roberts.
The town's population?
813.
And one of those 813 people is Grace- now Emily O'Brien.
Another one of those 813?
A cute boy. No- a gorgeous boy. A gorgeous boy who happens to like Grace/Emily.
Let love in.
I don't know what has come over me.
All I can say is that this crying thing, the purging thing, the get-the-sadness-out thing. IT WORKS!
This was one seriously epic book. The characters- Grace/Emily, Teague, Fisher- all of them were amazingly unique and interesting. I recognized a lot of myself in Grace/Emily, and I think that most girls my age would too. She makes for a very interesting person- and a very interesting character.
The plot was also fairly interesting. This wouldn't be what you'd call a page turner. Don't get me wrong, I definitely wanted to keep reading, even after reading only two paragraphs, but it wasn't too gripping that I couldn't fall asleep at night. (Thankfully).
The plot was also interesting in the fact that it was a romance, without all the stupid, predictable plot twists that usually accompany romances. For example- there was none of the stupid "boy or girl makes stupid decision. Boy or girl dumps their girlfriend or boyfriend. Boy or girl and girlfriend or boyfriend make up." It was pretty straight forward, which I liked a lot.
This was a quick but enjoyable read, and I'd give it five stars.
There's a daisy tucked behind her ear. A daisy. I cannot compete with a DAISY, people.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters


But I had looked, and I knew the sight would haunt my dreams: Abd el Atti, hanging from the roofbeam of his own shop, swaying to and fro like some winged monster of the night.

Amelia Peabody Emerson is a archeologist. She's eccentric, interesting, and also a detective to boot.
Therefore, when she and her husband- Radcliffe Emerson- and her son- Ramses- go to Egypt to excavate during the summer, it shouldn't be surprising that mystery comes to her.
A mysterious papyrus scrap- sold to Amelia, albeit reluctantly- causes the seller, Abd el Atti to be murdered. What follows can only be described as chaotic. While digging, several attempted (and sometimes successful) burglaries occur, a death, two mysterious fires, and the regular excavation. Amelia is determined to figure out who is behind the burglaries and murders, but with local unease, a precocious ("Catastrophically precocious" As Amelia says.) son who has a habit of getting into trouble, a husband who likes to be disagreeable, and a servant who's distractingly in love, can she manage it?
"De criminal was about to steal my pectoral," Ramses replied. "It is MINE. I found it."
"But, my dear boy, it was horribly dangerous," Emerson exclaimed. "YOu cannot go about demanding your rightful property from thieves; they are not amenable to such appeals."
"It was not dangerous," Ramses said serenely. "I knew you and Mama would not allow de men to harm me."

My mother gave me this book to read. I am attending a murder mystery party set during the Victorian era, in Egypt. (In fact, I am an archeologist, lol). She said it would help set the mood, that it was funny ( that it would increase my vocabulary (that it failed in, since I didn't look any of the words up in the dictionary), and that I would love Ramses. (that I did.) What she failed to mention is how stinking long this book is. Usually it would take me a couple of days to finish a book of this length. but for some reason, this one took me over a week. Huh. In fact, it has earned the descriptive nickname, "The Never Ending Book." (not to be confused with the never ending story.)
Despite it's length, however, it was a very interesting book, and I learned a lot. It was well written, and the ending was completely unexpected.
Besides this, it was chock full of awesome quotes. I narrowed the quotes down to four, which is one more than I usually include in book reviews. But since the fourth is so awesome, I will post it here."To bring her to Mrs. Emerson, of course," John replied, his eyes widening. Emerson subsided with a curse. "Of course. Everyone brings everything to Mrs. Emerson. Lions, mummy cases, miscellaneous young ladies-" I'd give it about three stars.
The old woman's cacodemonic laughter broke out again. She began to shuffle her feet in a grotesque dance of triumph. "I knew the honored sitt would not let an old woman be robbed. The wisdom of the prophet is yours, great lady. Accept an old woman's blessing. May you have many sons- many, many sons..."
The idea was so appalling I think I turned pale.

So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld


The guy riding the truck's elevator was muscular and lean, very dark. He was wearing a trucker cap and cowboy boots, jeans and a mesh shirt that showed off his muscles. In a friendlier context I would have pegged him as a gay bodybuilder doing an ironic take on NASCAR fandom. But alongside the two, he looked more like one of many hopefuls sent down by central casting to try out for the part of Thug #3 in a hip new thriller. Of which we were the unlikely heroes, I reminded myself.

You know how things are So Cool, then all of a sudden they're So Yesterday? Yeah. Do you really think that happens all by itself? That cool is a natural thing? Well, yes, it's natural. But it has some... help. From people.
The people in the cool pyramid.
Not everyone is aware of their part, but some have noticed it. Broken down, here are the levels.
1. Innovator- these are the people who create the trends. The ones who come up with rad new ideas. The first kid to keep her wallet on a big chunky chain. The first to wear way-too-big pants on purpose. To wash jeans in acid, stick a safety pin in something, or wear a hooded sweatshirt inside a leather jacket. The mythical first guy who wore his baseball cap backward.
2. Trendsetters. These are the ones who go out in the streets, and pick up what the new trend is. Basically, they follow the innovator. However, they don't get their information from magazines. A trendsetter's most important job is gatekeeper, the filter that separates out real Innovators from those crazy people wearing garbage bags. (Although I've heard that in the 1980's, there were some Trendsetters who actually started wearing garbage bags. No comment.)
3. Early Adopters. They're the ones that always seem to have THE COOLEST things out there. They mostly get their stuff from magazines and so forth, but are quick enough to adopt them that they're still mostly cool.
4. Consumers. These are the people who have to see the advertisements several hundred times before they actually go a buy something, that they think is cool. And, to quote the book, At which point it's not.
5. The laggards. These are the people who are still wearing mullets and all that.

Hunter is a Trendsetter. one who knows about the pyramid. In fact, he works for Mandy, who works for "The Client" (another name for that famous shoe factory named after a mythical person whose name consists of four letters). He screens advertisements, tests new electronics, shoes... mostly the shoes.
Jen is an Innovator- one of those lucky (sarcasm!) weird ones who always have to feel left out because they happen to be incredibly original.
When Hunter and Jen meet, it's like Hunter's world flips around 180 degrees and takes off running.
When Jen goes with Hunter to meet up with Mandy, they find her phone in the middle of an abandoned building (guess who's idea it was to go in there? Hint: it wasn't Hunter.), with no Mandy.
Their search for Mandy soon takes unexpected turns, as they get involved with missing shoes, The Client, "Jammers" (are they real? Discuss.), purple dye, and romance.

I thought about all those movies where the doubtful guy says, "But we'll be walking straight into a trap!" And the brave guy says, "But that's why they won't be expecting us." Which is, of course, complete crap. The whole point of setting a trap is that you expect someone to walk into it, right?
But they were expecting dark-haired Hunter of Skater Shorts, not blond non-Hunter the Mighty Penguin.
I took a deep breath. I really needed some food.

Scott Westerfeld is awesome. I mean it. His writing is excellent, and his characters are believable.
This is not an exception.
The premise idea for "So Yesterday" is awesome, and the characters are well balanced. There's the somewhat cautious Trendsetter, Hunter, who prefers to stand back and watch people, rather than getting involved himself, and then there's Jen, the rash "compass towards trouble" as Hunter describes her. They balance each other's personalities perfectly (in my opinion), which means that I'm not irritated at the main characters constantly, like I have with other books.
Also, there's just the whole idea of a cool pyramid is, in my opinion, pretty original. (Even if I must admit that I'm a "Consumer", lol.) The plot was interesting, and there was a HUGE plot twist right at the end. (Which I totally didn't see coming. At all. :) )
So, over all, I'd give this book 5 stars. Oh, and one more thing... this book is packed with good quotes. Packed, I say! packed!

Eating breakfast with the parents is always calming: they follow immutable patterns in that married-couple way, as if things have always been and will always be the same. They aren't Innovators. Not at the breakfast table. for one hour every morning they are Classicists of the best kind, my own Rock Steady Crew.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

When she spoke again, it was in a whisper. "Please, please, just let me go. I won't tell anyone."
Cheyenne wasn't expecting to be stolen.
She was expecting only to lay in the car while her stepmother, Danielle, got Cheyenne's pneumonia medicine. She hadn't wanted to go in with Danielle, so she had convinced her stepmother to leave the car keys in the car, so that Cheyenne could have the heat going. What you expect to have happen, though, isn't always what actually happens. Cheyenne should know. Cheyenne is blind.
Griffin, a high school drop out, didn't expect a girl to be in the backseat of a car he stole. In fact, he wasn't expecting to steal a car at all- it wasn't routine. Usually he just grabbed the merchandise from the backseat and then got the heck out of there. When he saw the new, expensive car, though, he couldn't help it.
Cheyenne is taken back to Griffin's house, where her circumstances change rapidly. At first Griffin's father is angry at him. But when they find out that Cheyenne is the daughter of the president of Nike, they decide that the best idea would be to hold her for ransom.
But can Cheyenne convince Griffin (who isn't a bad guy, after all), to let her go if the price is paid?
"I'm sorry, but do you think i really believe that? By the end of the day, my description would be handed out to every cop and broadcast on every radio station in town."
A strange expression played across her face, the ghost of a smile. In the cold, the engine ticked as it cooled. "But I won't be able to tell them anything. Didn't you notice that I'm blind?"

You gotta admit... that's one interesting premise. Girl stolen? Awesome title. Cover? Astonishing. And, this is the surprising thing, unlike most books that sound/look epic... this book really was epic.

I read it in two hours.

The one thing that I found a little bit surprising (but not unpleasant or bad, necessarily) was that this book is much less "exciting" than I thought it would be, and much more "romance" (though it's not, really), than I thought it would be. But that's neither here nor there, since I enjoyed it just as much (possibly more) than I would have, if it was more exciting.
The characters were the thing I think I liked the most. Cheyenne was interesting, and smart, which I think is rare among teenage girl protagonists. Griffin was definitely a good guy, and he was just normal enough that I think we could all sympathize with him. The dad... oh, what to say about Griffin's dad... He's just evil enough that you definitely don't like him, but not evil enough that you find yourself getting exhausted from hating him. If that makes any sense?
So, in general, this is an awesome book. I'd give it four and half stars, taking half a star off because the author seems to have forgotten to write a "Yes" in the end. :)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


If man has two sides- a good side and an evil side- then is it possible to separate them to create a single personality? That is the question that is faced in Robert Louis Stevenson’s book The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Dr. Jekyll is a respectable, honorable man. Mr. Hyde is a disgusting, evil person. “[The] few who could describe him differed widely, as common observers will. Only on one point were they agreed; and that was the haunting sense of unexpressed deformity with which the fugitive impressed his beholders.” as Stevenson writes.

The book is narrated by an old friend of Dr. Jekyll’s, a lawyer named Mr. Utterson. Over the course of the few years covered in the book, Mr. Utterson discovers the disturbing secret behind Mr. Hyde.

In The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, I think the author is trying to express the idea that all people have a capacity for both extreme good and extreme evil, as expressed in this passage. “If each, I told myself, could but be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable; the unjust might go his way, delivered from the aspirations and remorse of his more upright twin; and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path, doing the good things in which he found his pleasure, and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil.”

One part of this book that I found particularly interesting was the characters. Each and every character was developed, interesting, and original, whether or not they remained throughout the entire book, like Mr. Utterson, or appeared only in two paragraphs, such as this landlady. “An ivory-faced and silvery-haired old woman opened the door. She had an evil face, smoothed by hypocrisy; but her manners were excellent.” The characters each had their own strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Even without a good plot, the characters alone would have convinced me to read the book.


This book was very interesting to me, as it raised questions that I think a lot of people have thought of before. What if you could separate the parts of your personality? What would life be like then? What challenges would you face? Rewards? Dangers? Would it be a good thing? Or like in this book, an extremely dangerous thing? Or both?

Thanks in part to the questions, part to the interesting plot twists, and in part again to the characters, this book has to be one of my favorite reads. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy dark gothic novels.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Cirque Du Freak: A Living Nightmare" (The Saga of Darren Shan, bk 1) by Darren Shan

Darren Shan is your average boy (I imagine around 11 or 12, it never says) who likes being with his friends, playing soccer, and messing with creepy animals like big furry spiders. His life is a relatively normal one until one of his friends steals a flier from his older brother for "Cirque Du Freak" (Circus of Freaks), an (in-secret) traveling freak show. The boys are fascinated, and Darren and his best friend Steve end up going to the freak show. They find it intriguing, there's a bearded lady, a snake boy, the world's fattest man, many more, and most intriguingly for Darren, a man and his giant spider. He controls the spider with his thoughts and flute, and Darren loves spiders, so he loves this act. His friend figures something out about the man who controls the spider, and Darren continues to be infatuated with the spider- and his life changes forever.

I loved this book! I'm already reading the second book. I found it very fast-paced and exciting. The ending was pretty surprising... and I thought it was written so that it felt very real, and if vampires and all that existed it feels like that could definitely happen. I just really liked it, the only thing I think I could possibly complain about is it seemed like there was just a lot of punctuation; rather short sentences. Part of this contributed to it being a quick read but it also seemed a little weird at times like in the more serious of moments. Anyway though, excellent, five stars!!!! *****

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"The House of Dead Maids" by Claire B. Dunkle

"The House of Dead Maids" is a short 'prelude' to the classic literary novel "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte. If you want a reason to get into "Wuthering Heights" or have already read it and enjoyed it, this is a good book for you. However, if you have no interest in the old English type of writing style and the gothic elements with that type of story, you might not like it. I already read "Wuthering Heights" for my literature class last year, so I knew what they were talking about and enjoyed it fairly well!

Tabby has no parents and no family that she knows of. She has always been an orphan so long as she can remember. She has worked at various places, helping to be housekeeper and such, and is now finally at a knitting school where she's learned to knit well, when someone named Miss Winter comes to collect her. Tabby has been bought by this Miss Winter woman, from being at the school. She ends up at "Seldom House" where she finds that she's going to be the maid of a young boy; by various names. When she's taking care of the little boy -and when she's not- she finds herself haunted by a girl spirit that seems to be an old maid of the house. Soon, her and 'himself, heathen git' in their explorations of the house discover the dark house's very dark secret.

This book was alright. It was pretty sure which (a rare case) I found myself kind of glad about. It's written in an old english style like "Wuthering Heights" and is filled with Gothic era elements and the like. It's a complicated to story, and some might think it's a sophisticated type of book. I give it 3 stars ***. And also: the cover is creepy.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"The Thin Executioner" by Darren Shan

To start this post, I don't think I could use anything better then the words from the back of the book;
"The executioner swung his axe- THWACK! -And another head went rolling into the dust."
Jebel's family has him, his two older brothers (both strong and admired) and his father. Jebel's father, Rashed Rum, "...the greatest executioner Wadi had ever seen.", the executioner, who was valued as Royalty in Wadi, plans to retire. The competition that will take place to decide who will be the town executioner is probably going to be won by one of his sons; even he thinks so. He doesn't think that it will be the thinner, younger son, Jebel, and doesn't even bother to mention Jebel in the speech where he'll announce his retirement. The simplicity of him not mentioning Jebel will cause Jebel to embark on a dangerous quest, one that he'll probably die from the journey of, to prove that he is strong, and ask for invincibility from the god at the end of the quest.

Jebel starts his quest- and starts the story- as a very immature, completely shallow, character that anyone who is at all civilized is probably going to hate. However, during the book he grows up a lot, and gains a conscience. He grows a lot as a person during the novel. That, is why I like it. By the end of the book he's a lot different then from the beginning, in a very good way. The emotional journey filled with battles and danger is an interesting read. I'd give it 4 stars! It was a deep book, dealing with issues like violence, slavery, and really whether it's right to murder anyone for whatever reason.  

This book is also by the author who wrote the famed "Saga of Darren Shan", or more commonly called, "Cirque Du Freak" series, which I have yet to read (it's on my bookshelf right now though so there.). I've read reviews though that say it's nothing like his other books, and fans of "Cirque Du Freak" will not automatically enjoy this book. It's still good though- pick it up!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

"The Red Pyramid" (Kane Chronicles, Bk 1) by Rick Riordan

"The Red Pyramid" is the first book in one of the new series by Rick Riordan, "The Kane Chronicles". Rather than following the lives and events of Greek demi-gods (children of the Greek Gods and a mortal parent) and Camp Half-Blood like in "The Heroes of Olympus" and the "Percy Jackson" series, it's the epic adventure tale of Sadie and Carter Kane (brother and sister) who have the 'Blood of the Pharaohs' from their mother and father. These two siblings have been living on different continents since the death of their mother years before, but when it's 'visiting day' for Carter and his dad (Julius Kane, acclaimed Egyptoligist) and they visit the British Museum to see the original Rosetta Stone artifact, they're brought closer together in light of a crisis. Now, they begin the adventure of discovering everything no one ever told them about themselves, with their blood of the pharaohs. Pick up the book to see what happens!

I really liked this one. I would give it 5 stars! I've never disliked the books I've read by Rick Riordan, though so yeah.. When the 2nd one comes out in May I'll be sure to read it too! I think this is a very promising first book for the series. It's an exciting and rather epic adventure filled with suspense, godliness, and mythology (like Percy Jackson and the Lost Hero)!

If you'd like to find out more about "The Kane Chronicles" and the rest of Rick Riordan's books go to his blog here, and the website for "The Kane Chronicles" here. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"The Gift" -James Patterson & Ned Rust (Sequel to Witch&Wizard)

Whit and Wisty are back in this action-filled adrenaline rush of a sequel to "Witch & Wizard". Whit and Wisty are back for more rebellion, action, escapes, fighting, and further discoveries about Wisty's gift. I really can't say much more without spoiling the first book so on that note I'll stop!

I highly recommend the first book and its sequel! I think they're great books, with an amazing concept. They're very fast paced, just like all of James Patterson's books, which we have reviewed several of. Another note is that Ned Rust also collaborated with James Patterson for the second Daniel X book, "Daniel X: Watch the Skies".

I actually liked this book better then the first one, it was a rare occasion for me but I liked the sequel better- that never happens! I thought it was just as action packed and interesting, but I thought most of it just seemed to be written better than the first one, and I think it was portrayed in a less confusing manner- the first book seemed to confuse me a bit....

Anyway, you should definitely pick up "Witch & Wizard" and "The Gift". 4 1/2 Stars!