Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Lord of the Rings Part Two: The Two Towers (book review)

The Two Towers is the second book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, by JRR Tolkien. It took me almost a week to read, but it was very good and I had a hard time putting it down.

In this book, Frodo is a poor hobbit with the Ring of Power, an evil weapon which, as its name describes, holds great powers. He knows he must destroy this weapon by bringing it to Mordor, a dark land where the evil lord Sauron rules. But it is a hard journey, and along with his faithful companion Sam, Frodo must put his trust in the dark Gollum, a creature possessed by the Ring's power.

I give this book 10 out of 10 stars.

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: 5 books down, 10 to go.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spirit Walker (book review)

Spirit Walker is a fantasy by Michelle Paver. It's the second one in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, following Wolf Brother.

In the story, Torak a thirteen-year-old outcast from the Wolf Clan, is living with the Raven Clan. After killing a demon bear that was destroying the Forest, he is a hero amongst them. But Torak is destined to fight another evil, this time a demon child. His hunt takes him across the Sea, to the islands of the Seal Clan. There he discovers secrets that will change his life forever.

I thought this book was well-written and a good read. It was suspenseful and hard to put down. In my opinion, it was much better than the first one, Wolf Brother.

I give this book 10 out of 10 stars (finally!).

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: 4 down, 11 to go.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Yet another reading challenge!

The Newbery Challenge is being hosted by Nattie Writes. This should be any easy one to complete!

Here's my list:

1. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
2. Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes (re-read)
3. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
4. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
5. The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
6. Sounder by William H. Armstron
7. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
8. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The Book without Words (book review)

The Book without Words is a fantasy by Avi. In this story, Master Thorston is a powerful alchemist who is about to make the stones of life, which will let him achieve immortality. But when he falls to his death and swallows a stone, the only heirs to Thorston's magic are his servant girl named Sybil and Odo, Thorston's talking raven. However, when they can't read his Book without Words, they are faced with a choice: get thrown into the street or find out how to read Thorston's book and make gold to save themselves.

I really enjoyed this story, though I have read books by Avi, such as The Good Dog and Poppy and Rye, that I liked even more. If you try this book, I hope you will enjoy it just as much as I did!

I give this book 9 out of 10 stars.

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: 3 down, 12 to go.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ocean Joys

Ocean Joys
by Annie (age 10)

Ocean waves
Devour the sand
Leaving their own gifts in return
of shiny stones and shells.

A pair of cormorants
Flies across the ocean blue
Snapping at the fish,
and chittering in joy.

A young boy holds a shining stone.
The sun glints off its face.
He listens to the sea in a shell
waves lapping at his ears.

Another day has passed by.
The blue sky fades away.
The sea grass waves in the wind.
Another day awaits.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

another reading challenge...hooray!

After much careful deliberation, Annie has chosen her books for the Non-Fiction Five Reading Challenge. (Unlike her mom, she will probably actually finish all these challenges. And she writes much better reviews to boot!)

1. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (also on her Spring Reading Thing list)
2. The Cat's Mind: Understanding Your Cat's Behavior by Dr. Bruce Fogle
3. Wolf Country: Eleven Years Tracking the Algonquin Wolves by John B. Theberge with Mary T. Theberge
4. Mysteries of History by Robert Steward, Ph.D.
5. The New Big Book of U.S. Presidents by Marc Frey and Todd Davis

Indian Captive (book review)

Indian Captive is the true story of Mary Jemison, written by Lois Lenski. It takes place during the French and Indian War. Mary Jemison is taken from from her home and her family is tomahawked. The Indians bring her to a Seneca village called "Seneca Town", where she is adopted into a Seneca family. At first Mary is wary of the Indians, but most of them are very kind to her. After a few years, she is given a chance to return to the whites. But her family is dead, and she has come to think of the Indians as her new family. How can she leave them now?

This is a sad but exciting story of hope and friendship. I think anyone who enjoys stories about Native Americans, or history in general, would love this book as I did.

I give it 8 out of 10 stars.

**This book was read for school, not for one of the reading challenges.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Unearthing the Dragon: The Great Feathered Dinosaur Discovery (book review)

Unearthing the Dragon: The Great Feathered Dinosaur Discovery, is by paleontologist Mark Norell. In the book, he writes about the fossil beds of Liaoning, a Chinese province, where large amounts of amazing fossils have been discovered. He also talks about his experiences with the Chinese culture.

Also mentioned in the book are groups, such as BAND (Birds Are Not Dinosaurs), who do not believe that birds are dinosaurs. Norell discusses some of the reasons why birds are now generally considered to be dinosaurs.

I really enjoyed this book. Not surprising, since I've long been interested in both dinosaurs and Chinese culture! It was a fast read, and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in paleontology or in China.

I give this book 8 out of 10 stars.

(I'm also very excited that I'm going to see Mark Norell give a presentation in a few weeks. Maybe he'll sign Dad's book!)

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 5 down, 25 to go.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Sisters Grimm: The Unusual Suspects (book review)

For most people, living in a community of runaway fairy-tale characters, called Everafters, would be amazing. But not for Sabrina Grimm. It just so happens that her great-great-great-great grandfather Wilhelm Grimm, along with the powerful witch Baba Yaga, cast an enchantment on the small town of Ferryport Landing, ensuring that no Everafters could escape. So most Everafters hate the Grimms.

Although she puts up with the Everafters every day, Sabrina does not trust them. She knows one of them kidnapped her parents, and left her stuck with her eccentric grandma, a four thousand year old fairy, the Big Bad Wolf, and her sister Daphne Grimm, for family. Sabrina is determined to find out which one of the Everafters is responsible, and bring them to justice.

I thought this book was really well-written. It was funny and entertaining, and at times suspenseful. This is the second in The Sisters Grimm series, and I hope there will be many more to come.

I give this book 9 out of 10 stars.

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: 2 books read, 13 to go.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

On Wings of a Dragon (book review)

On Wings of a Dragon is a fantasy by Cora Taylor. In the book, Kour'el is a young girl from a land far away, and a magical people. She wakes up one day in a tower cell with no memory of the past. With help from her faithful companion Api'Naga, an immortal dragon, she painfully pieces together her memories and remembers her mission.

Far away, a dying king needs the help of Kour'el and Api'Naga. The ruthless Queen Mariah will do anything to have complete control over the land. But a servant named Maighdlin can help Kour'el, for as they will soon discover, they both have incredible powers.

I enjoyed this book much more than the last one I read, the Black Gryphon. On the Wings of a Dragon was full of emotion, and it was action-packed! If this were to be part of a series, I would eagerly await the next book!

I give this book 8 out of 10 stars.

The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge: 3 books down, 27 to go.

a few additions...

A few books to add to my The Spring Reading Thing reading challenge:

22. Meet Kit by Valerie Tripp
23. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
24. Unearthing the Dragon by Mark Norell
25. Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi
26. Dragon: Hound of Honor by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamelton
27. Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander
28. Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man by Wendelin Van Draanen
29. Pendragon: Black Water by D.J. MacHale
30. Tai Shan of the Dead by Jean Lightner Norum

a few additons...

Just a few more to add to my list for the The Once Upon a Time Challenge:

6. The Sisters Grimm: The Unusual Suspects by Michael Buckley
7. The Book without Words by Avi
8. A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
9. Ragweed by Avi
10. Poppy by Avi
11. Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins
12. Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep by Liz Kessler
13. Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: Spirit Walker by Michelle Paver
14. The Chronicles of Prydain: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
15. His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Black Gryphon (book review)

The Black Gryphon is a fantasy by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon. It was about the mythical creature the gryphon. In the story, there is a war going on between two mages, Ma'ar and Urtho. One of the war's greatest heroes is the Black Gryphon, Skandranon Rashkae. But when Skan is sent on a mission and doesn't return, his closest friend Amberdrake, a Healer from the Kaled'a'in people, starts worrying. Skan is always home on time. Is it the end of the Black Gryphon?

I believe the book could use more action, but overall it was a good fantasy. Someday I might read the next book in the series, The White Gryphon, but there are other books that I'm definitely planning to read first.

I give this book 7 out of 10 stars.

The Once Upon a Time Challenge: one book down, four to go.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Abstract Expressionists (book review)

Abstract Expressionists, by Rachel Barnes, begins by explaining the Abstract Art movement. It talks about where the movement happened and what obstacles it faced.

Following this introduction are twelve chapters about various abstract expressionists. Each chapter included a short biography about the artist and and a few pictures of their works. In some of the chapters, there were little sections about the lives of some of the people the artist worked with.

I thought the book was very educational and well-written. Some of the artists had very interesting lives! Overall, the book was certainly one I would recommend.

**This book was read for school; it is not for one of the book challenges.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Kira-Kira (book review)

Kira-Kira is Japanese for glittering. In this novel by Cynthia Kadohata, a young Japanese-American girl, Katie, discovers the true meaning of Kira-Kira.

Katie has always been close to her big sister Lynn. They were the best of friends. To Lynn, Kira-Kira means one’s eyes, the endless sky, and the deep, mysterious ocean. To Katie, it means anything from a puppy to a Kleenex.

The two have always been at home with their parents in a snug house in Iowa. But changes are on the way, and they aren’t all good. And in the middle of it all, Lynn starts drifting away from Katie. Soon, a tragedy strikes that will separate them forever.

When finally things start to settle down, Katie finds herself discovering the true meaning of family, friendship, and Kira-Kira.

The story was a very sad one, but I believe it is one of the best books you could ever read.

**This book was read for school; it is not from the reading challenges.