Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Big Book of U.S. Presidents (book review)

The New Big Book of US Presidents was by Todd Davids and Marc Frey. There isn't much to say about this one. It was basically your typical gathering of short biographies about the presidents. I did enjoy this book, though. One thing I found interesting were the short snippets about other things that were occurring during each president's time in office.

I give this book 8 out of 10 stars.

And that wraps up another challenge! My completed list:

1. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Golem's Eye (book review)

The Golem's Eye, by Jonathan Stroud, is the sequel to The Amulet of Samarkand. It is the story of a fourteen-year-old magician named Nathaniel, who is trying to tackle the break-ins that are troubling London's magician population. However, just when Nathaniel seems to be getting somewhere, a series of more violent and vicious break-ins starts. Nathaniel knows he won't be able to solve this problem alone, so he calls on the very being he hoped he would never, ever see again.

This book was very suspenseful and it seemed as if there were a surprise waiting on every page. I certainly didn't expect what happened during this one! I can't wait to read the final book in this trilogy!

I give this book 9 out of 10 stars.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Walking: A Dog's Point of View (writing assignment)

The squat beagle, hovering on the edge of obesity, lay in his bed in a tired heap. His eyes were rolled back into his head and the occasional snort slipped out of his mouth. Nothing could possibly wake him.

“We’re heading out on a WALK!”

Except for that.

Jumping out of bed, the dog padded over to his master, his tail wagging so hard that his behind was shaking like an old jalopy.

“DOWN, boy.”

Not the old down trick! Did he have to? The dog sat, hoping this would satisfy his master.

It failed to make his master glow with pride as the dog had hoped. His master pulled him down by his collar until he was lying below him. He was supposed to be ashamed, but he felt nothing but frustration.


Huh? The dog hadn’t caught that last part. Did he say chill? What else could he have said? Still, in case he was wrong, the dog lay on the floor.


Now that the dog could understand. He leapt up and shoved his head into his master’s leg.

“Calm DOWN, boy!”

This time the dog was too excited to pay any notice to the down word. The sun was shining, everyone was happy, and he had the world out there to explore!

Then, clouds rolled across the sky to cover up the sun. Darkness descended upon everything, and the world became a dangerous place. For out of the gloom came the most horrible monster anyone could imagine. The Choker.

The Choker was a black fabric winding its way around the dog’s muzzle. If the dog wanted to chase something, all his master had to do was pull the leash and… ouch! His face was pulled back and his throat tightened. The dog hated the Choker, and the Choker apparently hated him back.

His master slipped the Choker onto the dog’s face, managing to maneuver past the dog’s twisting and turning head. After that, they set out.

So many scents! So many sights! The dog was immediately overwhelmed. He should chase that stray cat. No, the squirrel would be easier to catch. Sniff. Sniff. The unmistakable scent of dog wafted towards his nose. The dog’s head was spinning. Ignoring all the confusion, he went on.

Soon after he had left his house, the dog spotted a little rabbit in the hedges. A deep, threatening growl escaped his throat. His would-be prey, now aware of his presence, dashed away. The dog was determined to follow it, but before he could, pain shot through his head. Not the Choker again!

Then, the dog had an idea, perhaps the best of his lifetime. He twisted his head to nearly unreachable angles, rubbed it on the grass, and escaped the Choker’s grip. Yet as soon as he freed himself, his master’s foot was on his leash.

“DOWN,” he commanded.

The dog didn’t want to obey, but he had no choice. He sat placidly as his master reacquainted him with his old nemesis. Then, his master turned around and dragged the dog home.

As soon as he set foot inside the door, the dog felt sleep approaching and retired to his bed. He would have to tolerate life with the Choker, or life without walks.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Four-Legged Friends List

I'm so excited to join the new challenge! Here's my list:

White Fang by Jack London (wolf)
Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Outcast by Kathryn Lasky (owls)
Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The First Collier by Kathryn Lasky (owls)
The Cat Who Went Bananas by Lilian Jackson Braun (cat)
Poppy and Rye by Avi (mice)
Cat House by Michael Peak (cats)
Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata (dog)
A Dog Called Scholar by Ann H White (dog)
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett (cat and rats)
Watership Down by Richard Adams (rabbits)
The Sight by David Clement-Davies (wolves)
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM by Robert C. O'Brien (mice and rats)

The animal I'm reading in honor of is our family's beagle, Baker. We got Baker on October 28, 2006, as a birthday gift for my brother Gray. On that day, everyone was so excited. When Mom, Dad, and Gray headed off to Lollipop Farm, everyone at home was anxious to see what kind of dog we would get. They came home with a nervous and excited beagle who came with the name of Baker. What we didn't know was that Baker had thyroid problems, so we had no clue why he kept gaining weight. By January, he weighed a whopping 43 pounds, which is a lot for a beagle! Now, Baker takes a pill for his problem, is on a diet, and now weighs only 38 pounds. Everyone is so happy that Baker became a part of our family (except maybe Aldo, our cat)!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Beasties (book review)

The Beasties, by William Sleator, is the story of fifteen-year-old Doug and his sister Collette, who discover an underground city of strange creatures who call themselves The Family. Collette and "The Family", known by most humans as the Beasties, take an instant liking to each other, but Doug isn't so sure about them. The Beasties have never killed anyone before, but they've left a trail of mutilated victims through the wilderness. But as time passes and strange things start happening, Doug has to make a choice: side with the Beasties, or face the fact that he'll never be safe again...

This was a great book! Full of unexpected twists and turns, the book never bores you. Each suspenseful page is better than the last! And I loved the rich, believable characters!

I give this book 10 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

an update

I've decided to change my reading list a little bit. I read nearly 100 pages in The Beast of Noor, and I couldn't get into it. I'm going to substitute it with Midnighters: The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfield instead.

So here's my updated list:
*Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
*The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
*MacBeth by William Shakespeare
*Scary! 2 edited by Peter Haining
*The Sight by David Clement Davies
*The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
*Vampire Plagues Book One: London, 1850 by Sebastian Rook
*The Best of Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, and 30 Others
*The Bartimaeus Trilogy Book Two: The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud
*The Bartimaeus Trilogy Book Three: Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
*The Beasties by William Sleator
*Midnighters: The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld
*The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson
*The Cronus Chronicles Book One: The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursa
*The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
*The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Lost Hearts (a short story review)

I read Lost Hearts, by MR James, for Short Story Sunday. Stephen is your average 11-year-old boy in England. He is excited about his new life with his uncle. But when strange things start happening, he is not so sure. First, he dreams about a strange figure upstairs, behind a locked door. Next, strange scratch-marks appear outside. Then Stephen learns about two children who met a nasty fate with his uncle, and now they want revenge...

This story is very well-written, and very scary! The author meant to put fear in your heart, and he definitely succeeded with me!

The Silmarillion (book review)

The Silmarillion, by JRR Tolkein, is the story of the Elves of Middle-Earth and how they came to be. The book goes into vivid detail when explaining all the battles and activity, and the reader can visualize clearly what happens. There were many characters and groups, and many events took place at once, in different places. The book starts with Iluvatar(The Creator), making the world. Then, Iluvatar created Elves, and later, Men. There were also less powerful, yet still very strong smaller gods, the Valar and the Maia. Unfortunately, one of the Valar turned to evil purposes, and this was Melkor. Throughout the book, Melkor (also known as Morgoth), plagued the lives of the Elves and Men. When Morgoth stole an Elf's most prized creations, which were three brilliant jewels, the Silmarils, it was too much for them to accept. Some of the Elves went to war against him, and soon others were caught up in the struggle. After many battles and deaths, finally the Elves, Men, and Valar were victorious against Morgoth.

I enjoyed this book very much, but it was considerably harder to read than Lord of the Rings. It also took me much longer to read. The first couple chapters reminded me a little of a creation myth, but that resemblance left as I got further into the book.

I give this book 8.5 out of 10 stars.