Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Books Read in 2008

Here's a list of the books I read this year:

202. The Myrtles Plantation: The True Story of America's Most Haunted House by Frances Kermeen (12/31/08)
201. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (12/28/08)
200. Deep Wizardry by Diane Duane (12/24/08)
199. The Great God Pan by Donna Jo Napoli (12/23/08)
198. Best Dog Stories by varied authors (12/23/08)
197. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (12/22/08)
196. A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton (12/20/08)
195. Song of the Wanderer by Bruce Coville (12/5/08)
194. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen (11/26/08)
193. Picture Bride by Yoshiko Uchida (11/19/08)
192. Dream Saga #1 by Megumi Tachikawa (11/16/08)
191. Fruits Basket #1 by Natsuki Takaya (11/14/08)
190. Angelic Layer #1 by Clamp (11/13/08)
189. Star in the Storm by Joan Hiatt Harlow (11/13/08)
188. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (11/11/08)
187. The Strand Prophecy by J.B.B. Winner (11/10/08)
186. This Our Dark Country: The American Settlers of Liberia by Catherine Reef (11/8/08)
185. The Sweet, Far Thing by Libba Bray (11/9/08)
184. Into The Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville (10/24/08)
183. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (10/18/08)
182. Two Girls of Gettysburg by Lisa Klein (10/18/08)
181. The Egypt Game by Zipha Keatley Snyder (10/18/08)
180. Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever by James Patterson (10/18/08)
179. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (10/18/08)
178. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (10/10/08)
177. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (10/7/08)
176. Robert E. Lee by James I. Robertson Jr. (9/26/08)
175. Ulysses S. Grant by Steven O'Brien (9/24/08)
174. W.I.T.C.H. Meridian Magic (9/23/08)
173. Warriors: Eclipse by Erin Hunter (9/22/08)
172. Coyote by Catherine Reid (9/21/08)
171. Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle (9/11/08)
170. The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket (9/5/08)
169. For Love of Insects by Thomas Eisner (9/5/08)
168. The Seer of Shadows by Avi (9/2/08)
167. Eyewitness Books: Civil War (8/31/08)
166. Triskellion by Will Peterson (8/31/08)
165. 11,ooo Years Lost by Peni R. Griffin (8/28/08)
164. Specials by Scott Westerfeld (8/25/08)
163. Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller (8/25/08)
162. Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce (8/24/08)
161. Nancy Drew Ghost Stories by Carolyn Keene (8/23/08)
160. Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz (8/22/08)
159. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (8/21/08)
158. Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan (8/19/08)
157. Witch-Hunt by Marc Anderson (8/17/08)
156. All the Cats of Cairo by Inda Schaenen (8/15/08)
155. The President's Daughter by Ellen Emerson White (8/13/08)
154. Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst (8/12/08)
153. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (8/10/08)
152. The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (8/7/08)
151. I am Regina by Sally M. Keehn (8/5/08)
150. Mathew Brady: His Life and Photographs by George Sullivan (8/5/08)
149. Everest by Gordon Korman (8/4/08)
148. All My Patients are Under the Bed by Louis J. Camuti (8/2/08)
147. The Fugitive Factor by Gordon Korman (7/31/08)
146. Chasing the Falconers by Gordon Korman (7/30/08)
145. The Princess and the Hound (7/29/08)
144. Lucy and Her Times by Paseal Pieg and Nicole Verrechia (7/27/08)
143. Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt (7/26/08)
142. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine (7/23/08)
141. Sunwing by Kenneth Oppel (7/21/08)
140. The Foxes of First Dark by Garry Kilworth (7/19/08)
139. Kidnapped: The Abduction by Gordon Korman (7/16/08)
138. Outfoxing Fear by Kathleen Ragan (7/15/08)
137. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson (7/11/08)
136. From the Files of Madison Finn: Thanks for Nothing by Laura Dower (7/10/08)
135. From the Files of Madison Finn: Heart to Heart by Laura Dower (7/9/08)
134. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (7/8/08)
133. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (7/6/08)
132 Finishing Becca by Ann Rinaldi (7/2/08)
131. The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer (6/29/08)
130. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (6/29/08)
129. Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison (6/29/08)
128. Among The Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix (6/28/08)
127. Warriors: Outcast by Erin Hunter (6/28/08)
126. In The Serpent's Coils by Tiffany Trent (6/28/08)
125. Pretties by Scott Westerfeld (6/28/08)
124. Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn (6/27/08)
123. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (6/27/08)
122. So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane (2/26/08)
121. The Fire of Friendship by Elizabeth Lenhard (6/23/08)
120. Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn (6/23/08)
119. Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter (6/23/08)
118. The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin (6/23/08)
117. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (6/22/08)
116. The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket (6/22/08)
115. Werewolves by Daniel Cohen (6/21/08)
114. Don't You Dare Read This Mrs. Dunphrey by Margaret Peterson Haddix (6/21/08)
113. The Grey King by Susan Cooper (6/21/08)
112. The Arkadians by Lloyd Alexander (6/19/08)
111. Enna Burning by Shannon Hale (6/18/08)
110. What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire (6/17/08)
109. The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman (6/16/08)
108. 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson (6/15/08)
107. The Map That Breathed by Melanie Gideon (6/15/08)
106. The Life of Mammals by David Attenborough (6/14/08)
105. Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman (6/14/08)
104. Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold by varied authors (6/13/08)
103. Dragons: The Greatest Stories by varied authors (6/12/08)
102. Bright Shadow by Avi (6/10/08)
101. The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordin (6/10/08)
100. Physik by Angie Sage (6/9/08)
99. Beauty by Robin McKinley (6/5/08)
98. A Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones (6/2/08)
97. Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones (5/31/08)
96. Greenwitch by Susan Cooper (5/27/08)
95. Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson (5/26/08)
94. The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau (5/24/08)
93. Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins (5/23/08)
92. The Secret of the Golden Pavilion by Carolyn Keene (5/22/08)
91. The Haunted Bridge by Carolyn Keene (5/22/08)
90. The Clue of the Tapping Heels by Carolyn Keene (5/21/08)
89. The Wright 3 by Blue Balliet (5/20/08)
88. Ratha's Creature by Clare Bell (5/19/08)
87. Horns & Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson (5/14/08)
86. Sandry's Book by Tamora Pierce (5/12/08)
85. Dragonsdale by Salamandra Drake (5/7/08)
84. The Rivers of Zadaa by DJ MacHale (5/6/08)
83. The Borrowers by Mary Norton (5/3/08)
82. Molly Moon, Micky Minus, and the Mind Machine by Georgia Byng (5/2/08)
81. The Human Lifecycle by Rufus Bellamy (5/1/08)
80. The Endocrine and Reproductive Systems by Melissa L. Kim (4/30/08)
79. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (4/30/08)
78. Finding Meridian by Elizabeth Lenhard (4/28/08)
77. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray (4/28/08)
76. Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang (4/20/08)
75. Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner (4/19/08)
74. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (4/19/08)
73. Back to the Divide by Elizabeth Kay (4/18/08)
72. Ranger's Apprentice Book One: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan (4/ 17/08)
71. The Outlaw Varjak Paw by SF Said (4/16/08)
70. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville (4/16/08)
69. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (4/14/08)
68. Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech (4/14/08)
67. Vampire Plagues Book Three: Mexico, 1850 by Sebastan Rook (4/14/08)
66. The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann (4/13/08)
65. A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales by various authors (4/11/08)
64. Icefire by Chris D'Lacey (4/11/08)
63. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (4/10/08)
62. Pieces of Georgia by Jen Bryant (4/10/08)
61. Mimus by Lilli Thal (4/10/08)
60. Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins (4/7/08)
59. The Real Benedict Arnold by Jim Murphy (4/7/08)
58. Starcross by Philip Reeve (4/5/08)
57. Dairy of a Fairy Godmother (3/28/08)
56. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (3/27/08)
55. No B.O.! The Head-to-Toe Book of Hygience for Preteens by Marguerite Crump (3/25/08)
54. Northlander by Meg Burden (3/23/08)
53. The Pirate and the Princess: The Timelight Stone by Mio Chizhuru (3/21/08)
52. The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (3/21/08)
51. Rules by Cynthia Lord (3/20/08)
50. The Divide by Elizabeth Kay (3/19/08)
49. Beyond the Mississippi: Eary Westward Expansion of the United States by Angela M. Herb (3/17/08)
48. The Care and Keeping of You by Valorie Lee Schaefer (3/17/08)
47. The Fire Within by Chris D'Lacey (3/16/08)
46. Amelia's War by Ann Rinaldi (3/14/08)
45. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (abridged version) by Jules Verne and retold by Diane Flynn Grund (3/12/08)
44. Stories of Young Pioneers by Violet T. Kimball (3/12/08)
43. The Alamo by Shelley Tanaka (3/12/08)
42. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (3/10/08)
41. The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono (3/9/08)
40. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares (3/3/08)
39. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells (3/2/08)
38. I Was A Rat! by Philip Pullman (3/1/08)
37. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (2/29/08)
36. Trail of Tears: A Primary Source History of the Forced Relocation of the Cherokee Nation by Ann Byers (2/29/08)
35. Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull (2/24/08)
34. Little Fur: A Fox Called Sorrow by Isobelle Carmody (2/22/08)
33. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (2/21/08)
32. The Tulip Touch by Anne Fine (2/20/08)
31. Urchin and the Heartstone (Mistmantle Chronicles) by M.I. McAllistor (2/20/08)
30. Vampire Plagues Book Two: Paris, 1850 by Sebastian Rook (2/19/08)
29. Assassin (Lady Grace Mysteries) by Patricia Finney (2/19/08)
28. Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff (2/19/08)
27. Sondok: Princess of the Moon and Stars by Sheri Holman (2/18/08)
26. Dinotopia: River Quest by John Vornholt (2/18/08)
25. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (2/18/08)
24. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (2/17/08)
23. Star Split by Kathryn Lasky (2/15/08)
22. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (2/14/08)
21. The Giver by Lois Lowry (2/7/08)
20. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (2/6/08)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (2/2/08)
18. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (1/31/08)
17. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (1/29/08)
16. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (1/28/08)
15. Little Fur: The Legend Begins by Isobelle Carmody (1/27/08)
14. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (1/26/08)
13. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper (1/22/08)
12. Terrier (Beka Cooper series) by Tamora Pierce (1/21/08)
11. Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson (1/18/08)
10. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (1/15/08)
9. Poppy and Rye by Avi (1/14/08)
8. Underworld by Catherine MacPhail (1/12/08)
7. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (1/10/08)
6. Tithe by Holly Black (1/7/08)
5. Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The First Collier by Kathryn Lasky (1/5/08)
4. Dream Saga #1 by Megumi Tachikawa (1/5/08)
3. Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne #2 by Arina Tanemura (1/4/08)
2. Larklight by Philip Reeve (1/3/08)
1. Fell by David Clement-Davies (1/1/08)

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Yearling (book review)

The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, is the story of a young boy, Jody Baxter, who lives in the backwoods of Florida and must fight off panthers, bears, and wolves as he and his family struggle to make a living. The Baxters' nearest neighbors live four miles away, and they have a son nicknamed Fodder-wing. Fodder-wing harbors an intense love for all things wild, and he owns a baby raccoon, a squirrel, a possum, a bird, and a bear cub (among other things). Jody desperately yearns for a pet of his own, but his mother absolutely will not allow it. So, one lonely night, when Jody stumbles upon a young, orphaned fawn belonging to the doe his father shot, he decides to take it in. Although his mother protests at first, it is his father Penny who casts the deciding vote--to let Jody keep the fawn.

Their relationship grows into one of love and companionship. Jody cannot bear to be away from the fawn for long, and it is unhappy when parted with him. But as the fawn, dubbed Flag, slowly grows from baby to yearling, the trouble begins. Flag has a steadily growing appetite, and the Baxter crops fall prey to the ravenous deer. Jody tries everything under his power to keep Flag away from his family's food supply, but deep inside himself he knows that eventually he will have to part with Flag.

This book was okay. At the beginning I thought it was great, then in the middle it lost its flavor and I just wanted to be over with it, then at the end it perked up again. I loved the last sentence of the book, when Jody was reflecting on how in this one year he had grown from a boy to a man, and how the loss of his fawn had affected that change, "Somewhere beyond the sink-hole, past the magnolia, under the live oaks, a boy and a yearling ran side by side, and were gone forever."

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

This book was an alternate for the Chunkster Challenge (hooray, I finished another challenge!) and I used it for the Book Awards II.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Stillness at Appomattox (book review)

A Stillness at Appomattox, by Bruce Catton, is the story of the last year of the Civil War, from the second battle of the Wilderness to the surrender at Appomattox Court House. The book goes into great detail about each battle, stating not just the rudiments but also interesting little facts about the generals and soldiers fighting. There was a great deal of direct quoting from the soldiers themselves, which was highly interesting. The book detailed the highs and lows of camp life during 1864-65. During the battles, the writing and the maps provided gave me a sense of direction and let me feel as if I was marching to the scene of the fight, and I appreciated that.

However, at times I found the writing a little dry. Occasionally I had to read a paragraph over once or twice in order to fully understand its content.

Even readers with little or no background information on the Civil War would find it easy to read this book. The writing is (for the most part) very understandable, and Catton provides a great deal of background information. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in American history or the Civil War.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I am using this as an alternate for the Book Awards Challenge.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Briar Rose (book review)

Briar Rose, by Jane Yolen, is really two stories entwined together: the story of young journalist Becca and the story of her grandmother Gemma, who survived the famous concentration camp Chelmno, or Kulmhof. Throughout Becca's childhood, Gemma told her the story of Sleeping Beauty, or Briar Rose, insisting every time that she was the real Briar Rose. After Gemma's death, Becca discovers a mysterious box containing some of her grandmother's possessions from long ago. She decides to set out on a journey to discover uncover the mysteries of Gemma's box. Along the way, she travels from Fort Oswego in New York, a refugee camp for Jews, to Chelmno itself, to find out the real story behind the events in Gemma's past.

This was the first book I've read by Jane Yolen, and I thought it was superb. I loved how she entwined real places in history together with a common fairy tale that we all know and love. I will definitely be looking for more of her books.

This book is for the A-Z challenge.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I didn't make it

I didn't make it, but I got soooooooooooo close! I am ending tonight at 45,121. The only reason I'm stopping is that I have a test to study for tomorrow. But just because I didn't finish this month doesn't mean I'll stop working on my novel!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

More Words...

I've only gotten to 34,006 words today. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow, so I'd better get a lot of sleep!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I've Topped 20,000!

I topped 20,000 tonight at 10:20 PM! Although I still have a LONG way to go, I think I've made considerable progress. I'm going to be spending a long time in the car tomorrow, so I hope I can get to 30,000 or more tomorrow. I'm not positive if my grandmother has the Internet, so I might not be posting for a few days, but I'm not sure.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Words

I am now up to 18,093. I am absolutely positive I won't make it now, but I'm going to continue this novel because it is much better than the one from last year.

Picture Bride (book review)

Picture Bride, by Yoshiko Uchida,is the story of twenty-one-year-old Hana Omiya, a Japanese immigrant who has come to America to marry a man she has yet to meet. She is one of many picture brides coming in from Japan in the early twentieth century. At first, Hana finds herself unhappy and in love with another man, but over time, although her husband Taro Takeda may not be handsome, she discovers that he loves her more than anyone else. Together, Taro and Hana raise a child whom they love, but who disappoints them in the end. And together, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, they are sent to the desert detention camps to wait out the war. Can both of them make it through the challenges of the influenza plague and having their daughter run away, or will this be the end of Taro and Hana's now-happy marriage for good?

I really enjoyed this book, although it was extremely sad and showed the prejudice that Americans had against foreigners in that time. I loved to watch Hana's feelings toward Taro gradually change from quiet acceptance to true love, and I enjoyed watching Hana's daughter grow up, although I was just as disappointed as they were when she ran away with her boyfriend. I thought this book was fantastic! Although it got off to a slow start, it picked up quickly and I was hooked throughout!

I give this book four out of five stars.

This book was for the A-Z Challenge.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dream Saga (book review)

Dream Saga #2, by Megumi Tachikawa, is the story of 5th Grader Yuuki Wakasa, and her adventures in the dream world Takamagahara. She is the legendary Horizon Girl, one of the few people who can freely access both Takamagahara and Nakatsukuni (our world). Yuuki is on a quest to save Takamagahara, along with her four companions. But she may be too late...the balance between Takamagahara and Nakatsukuni is starting to fail, and soon it may not be possible to distinguish what is a dream and what is "real". Japan's municipal water has turned red, and Yuuki suspects that something in Takamagahara has caused it. Can she and her band of friends solve the mystery in time?

I really liked the plot of this story, but the drawings were slightly confusing. In some parts, the lines were very faint and in others they were almost bold. The illustrations seemed to almost flow together. But overall this story was very good.

I give it three out of five stars.

Fruits Basket Book One (book review)

Fruits Basket Book One, by Natsuki Takaya, is the tale of high school student Tohru Honda, an orphan who lives in a tent in the forest...until she discovers the household of the Sohmas, a family with an ancient curse. They are possessed by the vengeful spirits of the animals of the Zodiac, and occasionally they transform into those animals. Having given Tohru a home, the Sohmas expect her to keep their secret...and it isn't as easy as it sounds.

This story was spiced up with the perfect amount of romance and magic. I like the idea of the Zodiac spirits, and I'm eager to read the next book to find out more about the Sohmas!

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

This book was for the Graphic Novel Challenge.

Angelic Layer #1 (book review)

Angelic Layer #1, by Clamp, is the story of twelve-year-old Misaki Suzuhara. She has recently discovered a new sport, Angelic Layer, where players pit their angels against one another in a game of wit and strategy. Misaki is already captivated by the game, but she doesn't have the money or experience to build her own angel. So, with the help of a crazy scientist named Icchan, Misaki will give it all she's got to build a winning angel.

She's already showing incredible talent, but what will happen when Misaki goes against an Angelic Layer champion...who just happens to be a five-year-old? With Icchan and her school friends backing her 100%, can Misaki still win the Angelic Layer Crown?

This graphic novel was okay, but it wasn't as good as some of the other books I've read by Clamp. I don't think I'll be rushing out to get the next ones. Even though I was disappointed by this book, I'm not going to stop reading books by Clamp.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More Words, but not much more

I've only gotten to 13,002 today, since it was much busier than expected. Tomorrow, the whole night after 4:15 is off, which sucks. I'll probably only get to 14,000 tomorrow, which was my goal for today:(

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Another Update

I'm now up to 12,168! Since I'll be busy tomorrow, too, I hope I can get up to 14,000 or 15,000.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Next Update

I've now gotten to 10,108 words. I would write more, but I am soooo tired. I am going to be very busy the next day, so I only expect to get to maybe 12,000 then.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Next Update

I have now gotten up to 8,014 words. It's disappointing, but it's already late tonight and I should probably be stopping now.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

More Words!

I've gotten up to 5,547 words! I probably won't (no, make that definitely won't) reach my goal by tomorrow, but I hope I can still finish my story by the end of November...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Starting Over

Since my previous story has been lost, I'm starting a new one. I know it's really late, but I'm going to try anyway. Today I've gotten to 2,270. My goal for the end of the weekend is 20,000. Who knows. Maybe I'll actually reach it for once!

P.S.--For some reason NaNoWriMo won't let me log in, so I guess I'll just be posting my word count here. Is anyone else experiencing the same problems?

Star in the Storm (book review)

Star in the Storm, by Joan Hiatt Harlow, takes place in the small Newfoundland village of Bonnie Bay. Twelve-year-old Maggie, her younger cousin Vera, and their Newfoundland dog Sirius have become targets of the wrath by Howard Rand, the richest man in the village, and his daughter Tamar. Tamar has never liked Sirius, and when one of her sheep is killed by a dog, she blames it on him. Maggie knows that Sirius would never do such a thing, but there is no way that she can convince Tamar of that. Soon, Howard Rand passes a law that forbids all dogs except sheepherding ones.

Maggie will never give up Sirius, so she hides him away in a secret cave which only she and Vera know about. But on the night of a dangerous storm, a steamer carrying more than 100 people crashes into the rocks near Bonnie Bay. No one will dare risk heading out into the wild waters to save the people. Maggie knows that Sirius can swim as well as a fish, but if she brings him out of hiding, she will be risking his life. Can Sirius find a way to save the passengers' lives...and his own?

I thought this book was very good for a first novel. It had a heroic dog, a witch of a girl, and lots of wild adventures! It took place in a unique location, and the author mixed in the legends and daily life of Newfoundlanders among the rest of the book.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I am using this book for the weather-event title in my What's In A Name Challenge.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Unofficially Joining Graphic Novel Challenge

I'm proud to announce that I'm unofficially joining the Graphic Novel Challenge hosted by Dewey. Here is my list so far:

Dream Saga #2 by Megumi Tachikiwa

Fruits Basket #1
by Natsuki Takaya

Angelic Layer #1 by Clamp

This challenge sounds fun! I'm excited to start it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Strand Prophecy (book review)

The Strand Prophecy, by J.B.B. Winner, was an epic science fiction tale about a reluctant superhero and his family. "Strand", as he is known, is also the wealthy technological genius Steve Cutter, who lives on an enormous boat named Gaia. He is the only one who can protect the innocent against rapidly evolving creatures whose first choice of prey is: us.

Soon, Steve (or Strand) is on a whirlwind journey around the world to stop the mutated creatures before they become out of hand. Along the way he and his eclectic crew made up of a robot, a super-monkey, an aquatic humanoid, and a veterinarian are trying their best to save the human race...while at the same time hiding Strand's true identity from his niece, Anna.

I absolutely loved this book! It was funny, scary, and packed with advanced technology that right now we can only dream about. The characters were believable, and you felt as if you really got to know and love them over time. I can't wait for the next installment in this series!

This book gets 5 out of 5 stars.

The Sweet Far Thing (book review)

The Sweet, Far Thing
is the third installment in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray. The book takes place in 1895, at Spence Academy for Young Ladies in England. Schoolgirl Gemma, and her friends, the spunky Felicity and the somewhat timid Ann, are struggling to return to the enchanted world they now know as the Realms. But when they finally manage to return, the girls find that things are not the same. The mythical creatures of the forest want their share of Gemma's magic--and they'll stop at nothing to get it. And the girls' friend Pippa, lost to the Realms forever, is not the same Pip that they know and love. She is becoming more and more like the evil creatures of the Winterlands each day.

Outside of the Realms, the girls are facing problems as well. Gemma's love, Kartik, plans to run away...without her. Ann's dream of being an actress is slowly slipping away, and Felicity may not receive her inheritance at all. Together, and with the help of some unlikely allies, can the girls save the Realms...and their futures?

This book was just as good as the first two, maybe even better. It was a perfect mix of humor, sadness, action, mystery, and magic. The characters were complex and realistic, and there was an eclectic mix of them. I was very sad when this book came to an end.

This book is a substitute for the Chunkster Challenge.

Four Challenges Finished!

After going through my list of books read and listing a bunch of alternatives, I am proud to announce that I have finished four challenges:

1st in a Series
Back To History
What An Animal
Young Adult

Now I get four free books:)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Disappointing News

Our computer (where I have my story) has a big problem, so I haven't been able to write at all today, and might not get to for a few days. I also didn't have a chance to post yesterday, so I'll do it now--I got up to a little more than 15,500 yesterday.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 6

Well, I passed my goal! I am now up to 12,547. I would have written more, but I have a lot of homework to do tonight. Tomorrow's goal is 15,500.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 5

Another disappointing day...I was very busy today, and I will be tomorrow. I only had about twenty-five minutes to write at the most, and my word count is now 10,585. Tomorrow I will set a more realistic goal--12,000. I know that is a lot less than my goal for today, but it is much more realistic!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 4

Well, I got to 10,027. I don't want to set my goal for tomorrow too high, but I'm really hoping I can get to 15,000 tomorrow, or more!

Monday, November 03, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 3

I haven't gotten close to my goal AT ALL yet--I'm only up to 8,254 words!! And, since I have a very busy day tomorrow, I probably won't get much done then. My goal by the end of tomorrow is 10,000 words...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 2

I've been working on my story a lot more today, and have managed to get my word count up to 7,012. I didn't reach my goal for the weekend, but I hope I can get 11,000 by tomorrow!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

NaNoWriMo Day 1

The first day of NaNoWriMo has ended! My word count so far is 3,268. I feel pretty good about my progress, but I have a lot of writing to do tomorrow to top 10,000, which is my goal for the weekend.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Getting Ready for What's In A Name 2

Yep, there's going to be a What's In A Name II! To learn more about it, click here. I hope you'll join me! Anyway, here's my list of possibilities:


The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

The Mystery of the Biltmore House by Carole Marsh

The Ravenmaster's Secret: Escape from the Tower of London by Elvira Woodruff

Time of Day:

Good Night, Maman by Norma Fox Mazer

The Night of Wishes
by Michael Ende

Body Part:

Blood and Chocolate
by Annette Curtis Klause

Medical Condition:

The Plague by Philip Wooderson


The Children of Hurin by JRR Tolkein


Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

The Empress's Tomb by Kirsten Miller

Witch's Business by Diana Wynne Jones

The Printer's Devil by Paul Bajoria

The Purple Emperor
by Herbie Brennan

The World of King Arthur and his Court by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Historian (book review)

This book was for the RIP III Challenge and the Chunkster Challenge.

The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, is actually three stories intertwining to form a complex and fascinating novel. The first story is told from the point of view of a sixteen-year-old girl who is brought up by her father, a historian, and how, when he suddenly disappears, she sets out on a quest to find him...and find out more about the mysterious man/vampire called Vlad Dracula.

The second story is the tale of the girl's father, Paul. Orally and through letters, he tells her how, one night, he received a strange blank book with a woodcut of a dragon holding a flag with one word...Drakulya. He soon discovered that the word meant dragon, and how this related to Vlad the Impaler, the true Dracula, who had belonged to an elite organization called the Order of the Dragon, from his companion Professor Rossi. When Rossi disappeared under mysterious circumstances, Paul had evidence that led him to believe that he had actually been kidnapped by Vlad Dracula himself. Being a vampire, Dracula was still alive...and he had Rossi in his grasp. Paul was determined to get Rossi back, even if it meant facing Dracula himself. Joining him on his quest was a young Hungarian anthropologist named Helen. Together they trailed Dracula to Istanbul, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Eventually they found Rossi, who had his own story to tell.

Rossi's story was one of love and pain. He had fallen in love with a young Hungarian girl, but had found himself separated from her during his own quest to find Dracula. Eventually Rossi had settled down, but he had never forgotten the elusive vampire, and then he found himself stolen away to Dracula's secret crypt...

Now, on one moonlit night, all the stories come together in the climax. Dracula will come face to face with those who have tried so hard to stop him. Who will triumph in the end?

There is SO MUCH MORE involved in the story than this, but I don't want to give away too much!

This book was phenomenal. It was packed full of horror, ancient lore, culture, romance...anything you'd want in a classic vampire story! Any fans of Gothic literature CAN'T miss this book!

I give this book a 5 out of 5. It was great!!!

Black Beauty (book review)

Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, is an interesting book. It is a horse story told from the horse's point of view. Black Beauty, as he is called, grows up being sold constantly. Sometimes he belongs to masters who actually care about him, and sometimes he does not. He spends his days as a young horse at a fancy place called Birtwick park, where he makes friends (both human and horse) and is extremely well cared for. Beauty's time at Birtwick park makes up almost half of the book.

After Birtwick, Beauty has other masters, including an Earl who doesn't really care about him, and a kind and gentle cab driver. There are ohters who aren't even really worth mentioning because Beauty only finds himself in their care for about one chapter each (and the chapters are short). But eventually, Beauty finds himself sold to a kindly old man and his son on a farm where Beauty discovers an old friend from Birtwick. He lives out the rest of his days well-loved and well cared for. After all the rest of the strain he lived through, it is a happy ending.

This book was good. Sewell had a very clear message, and she pounds it into the readers' heads: don't maltreat horses! I believe that this is a very good message, and that it is wrong to mistreat animals, but Sewell might have made her argument slightly more subtle. It seemed to me as if every two chapters there was a maltreated horse found on the streets by Beauty and his master, and it seemed to get a little repetitive after a while. However, I still enjoyed the book a lot, and I thought it was a great horse story.

I would give this book a 3 out of 5.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Egypt Game (book review)

The Egypt Game, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, is the story of a unique game started by two girls...Melanie Ross and April Hall, when they discover that they have one thing in common...a fascination for all things Egyptian. So, along with Melanie's little brother, they set up their own version of Ancient Egypt in an old store yard. They are soon joined by their new neighbor, Elizabeth, and two boys who think the girls' game is kind of cool.

But soon, the six young "Egyptians" realize that their game may have gone too far. Strange things are starting to happen to the players. Have they stirred up the ancient gods of Egypt, or, even worse, is somebody stalking them...someone with malicious intent?

This book was absolutely impossible to put down!!! I was hooked until the very end. The author is great at building up suspense and leaving her readers hanging. I found it hard not to beg my mom to run to the bookstore and buy the next book, The Gypsy Game!

I know I haven't rated books in a long time, but this one was probably a 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two Girls of Gettysburg (book review)

Two Girls of Gettysburg, by Lisa Klein, is the story of two best friends and cousins who are ripped apart by the Civil War. Lizzie Allbaur is a plain girl growing up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She is extremely envious of her cousin, Rosanna, a Southern beauty sent to Gettysburg to live with her sister. When Virginia secedes, Rosanna resolves to stay. She has left the South behind, and has come to love the little town, Gettysburg. But when the young man she thinks she loves is killed in the conflict, Rosanna must return a world she would have liked to forget. Her past is filled with treachery and forbidden love, and she feels as if she has to tell someone about it.

So, through letters, Rosanna directs Lizzie to her hidden scrapbook, where she has hidden a horrible secret. Lizzie, shocked and horrified by what her cousin has done, urges her to forget the past and return to Gettysburg. But Rosanna refuses.

Meanwhile, the situation in Gettysburg gets worse and worse. Lizzie must drop out of school to help her mother manage their butcher's shop. Every day she worries more about her father and twin brother, off fighting for the Union cause.

In Richmond, Rosanna marries an old crush. When he joins the Confederate Army, Rosanna follows as a field nurse. When her husband is killed by a fever, she stays with the army anyway, trying to do her best to prevent as many unnecessary deaths as she can.

Soon, the Civil War will bring Lizzie and Rosanna together again when the conflict reaches its turning point as the two armies converge in Gettysburg. But it will take courage and strength from both of them to make it through the battle alive...will they ever see each other again?

This was a great historical novel! Rosanna and Lizzie seem very real, and they have feelings that readers can relate to. In the author's note, she explains how she based her characters on real people who were at the battle, which I thought was very interesting. I am on the lookout for Klein's first novel, a retelling of Shakespeare's play, Ophelia!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

School's Out--Forever (book review)

In School's Out--Forever, the second installment in James Patterson's bestselling Maximum Ride series, fourteen year old Max and her friends are on the run from the Erasers, ghastly wolf-human creatures spawned in a lab. The catch? Max and her friends, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, and Angel, aren't exactly normal either. They grew up in the same lab that the Erasers did, only they weren't given wolf DNA...they were given bird DNA! After escaping the horrible lab they grew up in, Max and the rest of the winged children found themselves constantly attacked by Erasers. But when an FBI agent discovers their secret and takes them in, the bird-kids have to face their worst nightmare--school! Their social life is progressing fairly well despite the fact that they are winged mutants on the run. That is, until the flock uncovers a stunning betrayal and finds themselves without anyone to trust once again.

Now, with the children discovering startling new abilities that are getting more and more powerful, they have to survive on their own while learning how to take down a whole new that doesn't just want to kill them, but destroy the whole world.

I thought this book was just as good as the first, if not better. It was filled with action, and it was a very fast read. Just like the first one, this book was full of mystery and left me wanting to immediately go out and get the next book!

Wrapup To the Read-a-thon

I'm so glad that I participated in this read-a-thon! Here is my final posting.

Start: 6:15
End: 7:10
Minutes: 55
Total Pages: 1432
Books Finished: Black Beauty, Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever, The Egypt Game, Two Girls of Gettysburg, The Graveyard Book
Reading now: Into the Land of the Unicorns

End of Event Meme

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Between 1:00 and 2:00

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? The Graveyard Book, Maximum Ride, Coraline (even though I didn't read this for the read-a-thon)

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? No, I thought this year was great.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? All of the mini-challenges...they were very good distractions.

5. How many books did you read? I finished Black Beauty and totally read four books.

6. What were the names of the books you read? Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever, The Egypt Game, Two Girls of Gettysburg, The Graveyard Book

7. Which book did you enjoy most? They were all great books.

8. Which did you enjoy least? I liked them all equally, even though they were all very different!

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I wasn't a Cheerleader.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? It is highly likely that I will participate again! I will probably just be a Reader.

Yet Another Read-a-thon Update

I have now finished The Graveyard Book, which was very good, although extremely creepy, and my word count is up to 1,390.

Read-a-thon Post 12

Start: 1:20
End: 4:15
Minutes: 175
Total Pages Read: 1317
Books finished: Black Beauty, Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever, The Egypt Game, Two Girls of Gettysburg
Currently Reading: The Graveyard Book (for Carl's mini-challenge)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Read-a-thon Post 11

Start: 10:15
End: 11:30
Minutes: 75
Total Pages: 1,083
Books Finished: Black Beauty, Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever, The Egypt Game, Two Girls of Gettysburg
Currently Reading: The Castle in the Attic

Another Mini Challenge

I've decided to participate in Sharon's mini-challenge. Here are my answers:

1. Go to this website. Find on the map a library cat that lives/lived closest to you (there are library cats in Canada). What is the cats name? What library is/was it located in?

George lives in Tompkins County Public Library in Ithaca.

2. Which library does Dewey live in?

Dewey lived in Seymour Public Library in Auburn.

3. What is the name of the library cat documentary film that Dewey was in?

Dewey was in the documentary Puss in Books: Adventures of the Library Cat.

4. What is Dewey's full name?

Dewey's full name is Dewey Readmore Books.

Read-a-thon Post 10

Start: 7:50
End: 9:25
Minutes: 95
Total Pages: 944
Books Finished: Black Beauty, Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever, The Egypt Game
Currently Reading: Two Girls of Gettysburg

Read-a-thon Post 9

Start: 6:40
End: 7:40
Minutes Read: 60
Total Pages Read: 835
Books Finished So Far: Black Beauty, Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever, The Egypt Game
Currently Reading: Two Girls of Gettysburg

Read-a-thon Post 8

Start: 5:45
End: 6:15
Minutes: 30
Total Pages Read: 785
Books Finished: Black Beauty, Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever, The Egypt Game
Currently Reading: Two Girls of Gettysburg

Read-a-thon Post 7

Start: 4:10
End: 5:10
Minutes: 60
Total Pages Read: 751
Books Finished: Black Beauty, Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever, The Egypt Game
Currently Reading: Two Girls of Gettysburg

Read-a-thon Post 6

Start: 2:30
End: 3:30
Min: 70
Total Pages Read: 693
Books Finished: Black Beauty, Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever, The Egypt Game
Currently Reading: Two Girls of Gettysburg

Read-a-thon Post 5

Start: 1:15
End: 2:15
Minutes: 60
Total Pages: 562
Books Finished: Black Beauty, Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever
Currently Reading: The Egypt Game

Read-a-thon Update

I switched books from Eleven to The Egypt Game thirty-two pages into Eleven because I wasn't enjoying it. My page count is now 487.

Read-a-thon Post 4

Start: 12:10
End: 12:35
Minutes: 25
Total Pages: 446
Books Finished: Black Beauty, Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever
Currently Reading: Eleven

Read-a-thon Post 3

Start: 10:40
End: 12:00
Minutes: 80
Total Pages Read: 377
Books Finished: Black Beauty
Currently Reading: Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever

Read-a-thon Post 2

Start time: 9:40
End Time: 10:20
Minutes: 45
Total Pages: 190
Books Finished: Black Beauty
Currently Reading: Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever

Mini-Challenge 1

Where are you reading from today? My house.

3 facts about me … I'm a vegetarian, I play the flute, and my favorite subject in school is history.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? 23 books and one short story.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? I want to read more than seven books, which is how many I finished last time. And I want to stay up the whole time!
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time? Not really--just have fun and read a lot!

Read-a-thon Post 1

Time started: 8:10
Time ended: 9:30
Total Minutes: 80
Total Pages Read: 112
Books Finished: Black Beauty
Currently Reading: Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pre-readathon posting

Thank you all for doing my read-a-thon game...I just wanted to let you know that I'm wrapping it up now. Here are the books that you picked...

The Betrayal by R.L. Stine

Star in the Storm
by Joan Hiatt Harlow

Firegirl by Tony Abbot

Julie's Wolf Pack by Jean Craighead George

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The Mystery of the Ivory Charm by Carolyn Keene

The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop

Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville

Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb by Kirsten Miller

Escaping the Giant Wave by Peg Kehret

Harriet Tubman by Laurie Calkhoven

Eleven by Lauren Myracle

Sign of the Raven by Julie Hearn

Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

The Night of Wishes by Michael Ende

Two Girls of Gettysburg by Lisa Klein

Crispin: The Cross of Lead
by Avi

Bobcat by Hope Ryden

The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman

Even though you didn't pick them, I've chosen these as well--the short story "Jerusalem's Lot" by Stephen King and the novel Maximum Ride-School's Out--Forever by James Patterson.

Again, thanks for doing this! I'm soooo excited for the Read-a-thon!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Read-a-thon pile

I've decided to borrow my mom's idea and weed down my read-a-thon pile by playing a game. I'm going to post the first sentence from each book on my read-a-thon list, and then you're going to pick the ones that sound the most interesting to you. Even if you know what books they're from, judge from the sentences alone. Here they are:

1. The fire roared like thunder.

2. On Monday afternoon, Mrs. Philips was waiting for William at the kitchen door.

3. "Gramma, is that man following us?"

4. Ben Arnold was not a remarkable-looking boy.

5. Frank and Jess thought Own Back Ltd. was an excellent idea when they first invented it.

6. Pitch blackness had settled much earlier than usual over this, the last afternoon of the year.

7. If you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going.

8. The wolves of the Avalik River ran in and out among the musk oxen.

9. "Dad! Ma! McKinley! Guess what I saw!"

10. Sweeping, swooping, soaring, air-current thrill-rides--there's nothing better.

11. This notebook is the property of Hershey Hollenback.

12. It wasn't much, really, the whole Jessica Feeney thing.

13. The thing about birthdays is that everything should go just right, at least on that one day.

14. "If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?"

15. Not long ago, in a large university town in California, on a street called Orchard Avenue, a strange old man ran a dusty, shabby store.

16. Thunder rumbled overhead.

17. Nancy sat in her father's law office, waiting for him to finish a long-distance call.

18. The whispers began the day she arrived on horseback at the gates of the Emperor's palace.

19. A flock of huge black birds soared, gathered, then landed one after another in the trees near Maggie.

20. I used to be someone.

21. When the Spook arrived, the light was already beginning to fail.

22. The ageless sky was waiting above, crisp, snow-dusted, landscape.

23. It was the stench, seeping in through the car windows, that bothered Tom the most.

24. Hador Goldenhead was a lord of the Edain and well-beloved by the Eldar.

25. Alex was in trouble.

26. For the first fifteen years of my life nothing remarkable happened to me, Lizzie Allbauer, a shy, plain girl growing up in the ordinary town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

27. The day after my mother died, the priest and I wrapped her body in a gray shroud and carried her to the village church.

28. In North America there lives a wildcat that is barely seen.

29. When the explosion rocked the Griffin, young Samuel Higgins knew instantly that the boat was doomed.

30. Gripping handholds among the rocks, Erika scrambled to the crest of the ravine.

31. The gift arrived for Alfredo's seventh name-day.

32. The girl was late getting home for supper.

33. There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

So, which ones sound most interesting to you?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Coraline (book review)

Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, is certainly a special book. But my copy is even more special than most--it was signed by the author! Jean stood four hours in the pouring rain to get this book signed for me! You can read the story here. P.S.--I've read this story before, but I HAD to read it again after Jean did this for me!

Anyway, Coraline is the story of a young girl who is bored with the world around her. She has explored every inch of her flat and the surrounding area...or so she thinks. Then, on a rainy day, she finds an old, locked door. When her mother opens it with a strange black key, Coraline and her mother find that it leads to nothing. But one day, when her parents are out, Coraline steals the key and unlocks the door herself. The bricks are gone. Instead there is a dark, musty hallway that leads to a flat that seems similar to hers...until she sees the copies of her parents who inhabit the place. They are tall and pale, with buttons where their eyes should be. They embrace Coraline as their own daughter, and offer her anything she wants. But Coraline soon finds out that this world isn't perfect...the other parents want to sew buttons into her eyes, too!

After this disturbing discovery, Coraline hurries back to her own world, only to find that her parents have disappeared. The police don't believe her story about the world beyond the door, and Coraline finds herself on her own...except for a strange companion, a talking black cat. She doesn't know where her parents are, but she has a hunch. Perhaps the other parents stole her real parents to lure her back. Coraline has no choice but to return to the other flat. When she arrives there, things have changed a great deal. Coraline can now see the "people" who she used to think bore even a slight resemblance to her neighbors and parents, and they are horrible gruesome, maimed creatures who aren't so friendly to her now that she knows their true nature. And the ghosts of three dead children soon warn her that the other mother will suck her soul out if she doesn't hurry and find her parents. Moved by their speech, Coraline sets out on a quest not only to find her parents, but also to find the children's souls. The search for the souls is dangerous enough, but it all leads up to the final question...can Coraline find her parents and destroy the other mother's evil for good?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Robert E. Lee (book review)

Robert E. Lee, by James I. Robertson Jr., is a biography of one of the most respected American figures in history. Robert E. Lee grew up in fancy Virginian society, and he associated himself with Virginia from the start. When Lee was only four, he was forced to leave his family's mansion due to his father's bad business dealings. However, he did have a good childhood, and became the chief servant for his mother, whose health was rapidly declining. Lee had as good a formal education as existed in Virginia during those times. But what to do next? He had no inheritance, and he didn't want to become a businessman. Young R.E. Lee decided to become a soldier.

In Spring of 1825, Lee was accepted into West Point. He became one of the most successful cadets at the academy. In his senior year, he held the highest status a West Point student could earn--he had no demerits. Lee graduated second in his class in the year 1829. He joined the Engineer Corps, the elite branch of the army.

In August 1846, Lee received orders to head to Texas to fight in the Mexican-American War. He became close friends with General Winfield Scott there, and they developed a kind of father-son relationship. Lee proved an excellent soldier, with his courage and determination, which helped the Americans to win major battles in Mexico.

But soon the war was over. In 1852, Lee became the superintendent of West Point. While he held this office, Lee was known for kindness. He did not enjoy disciplining students, and when a cadet was to be expelled, Lee always gave them a chance to resign first.

In March of 1861, Lee was asked to lead the U.S. Army against the secessionist Southerners. Lee politely refused the offer. He could never go against his native Virginia. After Virginia seceded, Lee was asked to command the "military and naval forces" of the state. Lee accepted the offer. Now he had to prepare his state for civil war. This proved a difficult job for Lee, but not impossible. When the Union attacked, his army drove them back.

For the majority of the next few years, it seemed that the South was winning. They had stunning victories at Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Second Bull Run, and Chancellorsville. The turning point occurred at a sleepy town in Pennsylvania--Gettysburg. Here Lee was badly defeated by a former West Point comrade, George Gordon Meade. And after Ulysses Grant assumed command of the entire Union army, there began a game of deadly hide-and-seek. Eventually Lee was driven out into the open, where Grant besieged him at Petersburg. Finally, in spring of 1865, Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. The Civil War was over.

Although this book mainly contains information about Lee's war years, it has one final chapter, about Lee as a national symbol. And that is what he remains to this day, despite the fact that his spectacular military genius was used against the Union. Maybe it is the fact that Lee was such a formal, kindly man. No matter what, we can all agree that Lee remains a great figure in American history, and he always will be.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Six Random Things about Myself

I was tagged by The Dynamic Uno. Here's the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.

2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Write six random things about yourself.

4. Tag sixish people at the end of your post.

5. Let each person know he or she has been tagged.

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six random things about me:

1. I play the flute.

2. My favorite animals are wolves and ravens.

3. I have a dog, two cats, seven mice, a tarantula, and a tank full of guppies and snails.

4. I'll read almost anything, but my favorite genres are fantasy, nonfiction, and mystery.

5. I am homeschooled and I am taking an advanced composition class at the local community college.

6. I am a vegetarian.

I tag:







Ulysses S. Grant (book review)

Ulysses S. Grant, by Steven O'Brien, is a biography of one of the most interesting figures in American history. Grant has a reputation as an alcoholic general, but does he deserve that reputation? In fact, most of Grant's drinking took place before the Civil War, when he was a failed businessman deep in debt. This interesting book discusses why Grant failed in business yet still made a great general. There was one incident that took place during his childhood which caught my eye. As a child, Grant was great with horses, but not so great with people. His father lent him $25 to buy a horse from a neighbor. Jesse Grant told his son to offer $20 at first, then $22.50 if the seller refused, and finally $25. Young Grant walked up to the man and proudly informed him,
"My father says I am to offer $20 for the colt, but if you will not take that, I am to offer $22.50, and if you won't take that, I am to give you $25."
Not only did the man take Grant's 25 dollars, he also told Jesse about his son's blunder. Jesse then spread the news around, perhaps to teach Grant a lesson. But Grant never did learn; his overly trusting nature combined with his lack of business sense would be his downfall later on during his life as a businessman.

Business may have been one thing, but war was another. Grant, during the Mexican-American war, showed traits that would make him a great general later on--he stayed calm in the face of danger, was incredibly brave, and willing to take great risks for victory. The soldier's life agreed with him; he gained weight and a healthy complexion. But when the war was over, Grant found that his next army assignments were anything but pleasant--he was sent to California to oversee the Gold Rush. It was here, during the long and dreary months at the army outpost in California, that Grant took up drinking. He returned home an alcoholic. Grant took up business to support his wife and children, who were about the only things that gave him joy during these times. It was an endless cycle of failed jobs and debt.

But when news came that a civil war was approaching, Grant lightened up a bit. Here was another chance to do what he was good at! Grant eagerly sided with the Union, and during the course of the first few years, won the Union victories at Fort Donelson, Fort Henry, and Vicksburg. In early 1864, Grant assumed duties as the lieutenant general--a rank that hadn't been occupied since the time of George Washington. Grant started on a campaign to crush the Confederate general Robert E. Lee and his elusive Army of Northern Virginia. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. The Civil War was over.

Now a new chapter in Grant's life was starting. He returned home a hero. Everyone loved him and wanted him to run for president. After Andrew Johnson's presidency, Grant was elected to office. His family loved it at the White House, and so did Grant, but the famous general made a very bad president. He was involved in countless scandals. However, Grant was still elected to a second term. After his presidency was up, Grant didn't know what to do. During these years, he had no real home, but moved from house to house, staying with fans and relatives. But Grant still didn't know what to do with himself. Then, he had an idea. He started working on memoirs of his time fighting in the Civil War. Grant worked on this project until he died. They were published after his death to great acclaim. While working on the project, Grant felt himself slowly dying, and on July 28, 1885, the great commander of the Union army passed away.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Coyote (book review)

I want to see them. I want to find their outlines when I scan the edges of the meadow. I want to know if I'm being watched while I work in the garden or mow the field. I want to know where they sleep and spend their days, where they go when the neighboring dogs race through or when November arrives after the leaves here have blown free and hunters slip into the newly naked woods.

So says Catherine Reid, author of Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in our Midst. Living in an old Massachusetts farmhouse, Reid has heard the howls of the coyotes, the adaptable, unstoppable hunters that live among humans. She wants to see one. Reid has tracked the history of the coyote back to when it first turned from the scrawny, sneaky animal in old Western cartoons to the elusive eastern creature that we often mistake for a wolf. She finds their tracks and scat in the woods near her house, hears them howling at night when we are asleep. She wonders, how is it that each hunting season, their numbers increase instead of decline? Is it extreme adaptability, or something else? Reid wants to dig deeper into the life of the coyote, to find out how it thrives among the humans who drove its larger cousin, the wolf, to near extinction. Reid takes you on an unforgettable journey into the lore and past of her home state on a quest to discover the secret behind this mysterious canid.

First of all, this wasn't only a book about wildlife. It was also a narrative about love and hate and family. It shows us how, as part of human nature, we want things to be totally predictable. We want to be in control, and we don't want to live among animals that reflect us in them, both the aspects we like about ourselves, and those we don't like so much. That was partly why we drove the wolf out. This was a great book about both people and animals, and I found it both enjoyable and educational.

This was my final book for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Haiku Book Review

Do you want to check out a fun contest? Head over to Fyrefly's Book Blog. To enter, you have to write a haiku review of a book that you have read recently.

Here is mine:

by Peter S. Beagle

Two feline lovers
Ghostly girl with a dark past
Left me wanting more

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Seer of Shadows (book review)

The Seer of Shadows is yet another book by the renowned author Avi. It takes place in post-Civil War New York, where fourteen-year-old Horace Carpentine works as an apprentice to a lazy photographer by the name of Enoch Middleditch. When Middleditch comes up with the idea to make a "spirit photograph" for his latest customer, a wealthy lady named Mrs. Von Macht who has just lost her daughter, Horace reluctantly agrees. But when he befriends their servant, Pegg, she tells him a tale of deceit and horror that he won't forget. The Von Machts are hiding a dark secret about their "daughter", a girl named Eleanora. And Horace soon discovers that as a "seer of shadows" he can spy the ghost of Eleanora hovering about. She wants revenge, and she won't stop at anything to get it.

This book went very fast. It was perhaps the best of Avi's books that I have ever read! Unlike most ghost stories, where friendly people turn into friendly ghosts, kindly Eleanora has turned into a wicked spirit intent on murder. This book was genuinely spooky, and fans of this genre will eat it up!

Thank you, Carl, for such a wonderful book! I had a hard time saving it for RIP, but I'm glad I did because it was the perfect read for the season!

Triskellion (book review)

Triskellion, the first in a brand-new trilogy by Will Peterson, is the story of two twins, Adam and Rachel. They are heading to the picturesque English village of Triskellion for their vacation, and they find it an unsettling place. Deep, dark forests, unfriendly hermits, and hostile punks don't do anything to improve the mood. But Rachel, Adam, and their new friend Gabriel know the villagers are hiding something, and despite all the danger, they want to find out what it is. The mysterious three-bladed symbol of Triskellion will take them on an adventure that no one in the village will ever forget.

This was a perfect archaeological adventure with a bit of a paranormal twist to it. The mystery was complex and fascinating, and will give fans of the genre a lot to ponder over. The author wrote in such a fashion that one could almost believe that his story was really happening! Mystery-lovers will adore this book, as will fans of creepy stories. I am eagerly awaiting the second installment of the series.

Monday, September 08, 2008

For Love of Insects (book review)

For Love of Insects, by entomologist Thomas Eisner, is a book devoted to his discoveries about the lives of arthropods. Although the title uses the word insects, Eisner's research isn't limited to them. He also talks about whipscorpions, spiders, and millipedes. The book mainly discusses chemical defenses, but it also has a chapter mainly devoted to the mating and reproduction of a certain kind of moth, and one devoted to insect camouflage.

I found the chapter about orb weavers especially interesting, because it talked about the web structure and how the spider decides when something is safe to eat and when it isn't. But honestly, I really enjoyed the whole book. I was glad for the full-color photographs, because they helped me see what he was talking about even better. I also learned a ton of new facts about insects and other arthropods, and it wasn't at all hard to understand because of the author's easygoing style. This is a must-have for any bug-lover's collection!

This is a substitute for the Nonfiction Five Challenge. It also fills in the slot for my "E" author in the A-Z Challenge.

11,000 Years Lost (book review)

11,000 Years Lost, by Peni R. Griffin, is the story of 11-year-old Esther's journey back to the Pleistocene era. When Esther finds two ancient spear points on her school playground, they lead her to a doorway into the past. Esther steps 11,000 years back in time, not knowing that after she does, the doorway will disappear. She intends to stay for a few minutes exploring, then return home. But soon she finds herself stuck in Ice Age Texas, and she doesn't know when she will find another doorway. Soon Esther meets two girls who belong to a tribe of mammoth hunters, Ahrva and Tekinit. They bring her to their family, who adopts her thinking she is a child from the stars. When traveling with them, she finds herself face to face with dire wolves, scimitar cats, long legged bears, and mammoths, but never another doorway. Will Esther ever see her family again?

Although this book was a slow reader, it wasn't because it lacked excitement. It let the reader glimpse into the life of a person living in the Pleistocene. I was sad when this book ended, and eager to read more about Esther's adventures. I will definitely search for more books by this author!

This book was a substitute for the "Back to History Challenge and my "G" author for the A-Z Reading Challenge.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Red Badge of Courage (book review)

The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, is one of the most famous Civil War stories ever published. Unlike most novels about this subject written at the time, it focused on the life of a common foot soldier, not a famous general or hero.

The book begins when the main character, Henry, joins the army with one goal in mind: to become a hero. At first he enjoys this new life, but as the day of battle draws near Henry begins to form a doubt in his mind. Is he really capable of becoming a hero, or will he turn and run when he finally gets a chance to fight? When the day of battle comes, he is at first calmed by his spectacular performance in the fight, but when the enemy forms a furious counter-charge, Henry can't help himself--he runs.

After the battle is over and the young man is lost, he feels a deep sense of shame. He yearns to rejoin his regiment and prove himself worthy of the rank of hero. But first, Henry joins up with a group of wounded soldiers heading off to the hospital. Seeing all these brave men, he feels even more ashamed of himself. Why couldn't he have stayed and fought?

Eventually Henry finds his regiment, who, fortunately, didn't notice his shameful act. But there is another battle coming up. Will Henry finally set his mind at ease and earn his place among the other brave men?

I greatly enjoyed this superb Civil War novel. I really connected with Henry, who I got to know a lot while I read. When he proved himself in battle, I felt proud. By reading this book, you can really get a sense of what a grueling ordeal these poor men went through. But there were also the moments of joy, like winning a battle. I truly felt like one of these men when I read this book! I absolutely loved it!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Faerie Wars (book review)

Faerie Wars is the first in a series of fantasy books by Herbie Brennan. When the main character, Henry Atherton, helps his old neighbor Mr. Fogarty clean up his house, the last thing he expects to find is a faerie. But that's exactly what he does find. Pyrgus Malvae, the Crown Prince of the Faerie Realm, is on the run from treacherous evildoers, and he needs to find a way back to his world. Mr. Fogarty helps the faerie build a portal back to his dimension, but something goes terribly wrong, and Henry may be the only one who can save Pyrgus and his family. But as Henry is drawn deeper and deeper into a conflict betweeen two Faerie clans, he finds that the world of Faerie is more complicated than he originally thought.

This book was very complex, and with each new chapter the suspense built up even more. I found it very exciting and dynamic, and I think it's lucky that I already own the next two in the series, or I'd want to head out to buy them immediately! It was a superb mix of fantasy, science fiction, humor, and adventure. What more could you want?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wild Magic (book review)

Wild Magic, by Tamora Pierce, is the first in the epic Immortals series. The heroine, Daine, has always had a knack with animals, but it is not until she joins up with the horse trader Onua that she learns it's magic. With her wild magic, Daine can talk to animals and make them obey her. She travels with Onua to the city of Tortall, where she becomes an apprentice to the mage Numair. When war threatens Tortall, she is the only one who can save herself...and everything she holds dear. But Daine has a dark secret to hide, a secret that drove her from her home in the first place. What will happen when it comes to light?

I enjoyed this book as much as the first two I have read by this author. I love her writing and I can't wait to get my hands on Wolf-Speaker, the second book in the Immortals quartet. The characters were funny and engaging, and Daine's unique kind of magic made the book even more interesting. I would recommend this book to animal lovers, fans of the author, or anyone who is looking for a good read.

This book was for the First in a Series Challenge.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

R.I.P. III Reading Challenge

I am so excited that this challenge has started. I've been waiting for it forever! Thank you, thank you, thank you Carl, for hosting this great challenge!

I plan on doing Peril the First. Here's my book pool:

The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

Dracula by Bram Stroker

The Hand of the Devil by Dean Vincent Carter

Carrie by Stephen King

The Seer of Shadows by Avi

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney

Triskellion by Will Peterson

The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgewick

Burning Issy by Melvin Burgess

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Witch-Hunt (book review)

Witch-Hunt, by Marc Aronson, is the true story of the Salem Witch Trials, which actually began in Boston with the possession of the Goodwin children in 1688 and truly ended with a confession by Ann Putnam Jr. in 1706. During the trials, twenty-five innocent people, both adults and children, were killed (twenty were executed and five died in prison, including two infants). But what about the mysterious "afflicted" girls? What caused them to lead innocent women (and even a few men) to their deaths? According to Ann, the girls were used by the devil, forced to scream and moan even when their so-called "tormentors" were actually doing nothing. But was that what really happened at Salem? Scientists have a few different ideas, but you will have to dig deeper to truly discover all the secrets of the Witch Trials.

This book was an extremely fast read, filled with startling revelations and surprises. It reads like a novel, and at the end you will find that, while you were enjoying the book, you learned a lot, both about America's mysterious history and about the human conscience itself.

This is a substitution for the Nonfiction Five Challenge.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

All the Cats of Cairo (book review)

All the Cats of Cairo, by Inda Schaenen, is the story of a young American girl experiencing all the magic and wonder of the Egyptian city of Cairo. When Maggie first arrives in this bustling city, she is amazed by the sheer number of cats living on the streets. Soon, Maggie finds that they have a strange supernatural attraction to her.

When her new cat companions lead her to find that not all is well in the busy city, Maggie knows she must take action. Egyptian businesses are kidnapping young boys who will become the work force of their factories. And they are about to bulldoze over the sacred tomb of the Egyptian cat goddess, Bastet. With her newfound friends and newfound powers, can Maggie save the boys...and Bastet's tomb... in time?

This was an amazing book that weaved animal magic and Egyptian culture into one. The plot is full of twists, turns, and dead ends, and you'll find it hard to put down! The unlikely heroine and her strange friends enrich the story with their quirky personalities. I would recommend it to anyone who likes cats, foreign cultures, or simply a good fantasy adventure.

Promise of the Wolves (book review)

Promise of the Wolves is the first in the epic Wolf Chronicles by Dorothy Hearst. The heroine of the story, Kaala, is a mixed-blood wolf who is sentenced to death as soon as she is old enough to journey outside of the den. But Kaala has been born with the courage and strength to resist the elders who demand for her to die. Because of this, the leader of her pack, Ruuqo, allows her to live...for now. As Kaala grows older, she finds herself mysteriously drawn to humans, who the wolves are forbidden to consort with. The punishment for breaking this rule? Banishment or death. Kaala has cheated death once, but can she do it again?

As the young wolf begins to sneak away more and more often to be with her human companions, she unknowingly draws her friends into it. And when war between wolves and humans threatens, Kaala will have to make the hardest choice of all...risk the lives of her friends, both human and wolf, or threaten the survival of all wolf and humankind.

I loved this book and I can't wait for the next one to come out! It was a clever way to tell the story of how the earliest dogs were born. The plot was full of twists and turns, and I nearly forgot that I was human as I ran with Kaala and her friends. To anyone who is interested in animal fiction or tales with courageous heroes and heroines, this is the perfect choice!

My mom won this book ARC from J.Kaye's book raffles...thank you very much J.Kaye!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Killer Angels (book review)

The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, is perhaps the best historical novel that I have ever read. It told the story of the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes of people like Robert E. Lee, Joshua L. Chamberlain, and James Longstreet. As I read, I felt like I was on the battlefield, experiencing it firsthand. It began when the Confederates were just moving into the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg, and ended after Pickett's Charge. This book was extremely informative, even though it was a novel. And going to the actual battlefield this past week brought it alive even more. When I read the book from both Confederate and Union points of view, I really began to find that I cared about what happened to both sides. These were people, not just soldiers or enemies.

I also watched a movie, Gettysburg, based on the book, and I was surprised by how similar they were! Most movies based on books aren't that good, but this one was phenomenal!

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history or the Civil War. Don't be afraid that it uses too much military jargon, because I found it to be an extremely readable book.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I am Regina (book review)

I am Regina, by Sally M. Keehn, is a fictional tale based on the true story of a young woman named Regina Leininger, who was kidnapped by the Native Americans when she was ten years old and held captive until she was twenty. The story of Regina starts on her family's farm in the country. Regina is the younger of two daughters, and a bit of a worrywart. Her older sister Barbara, however, is fearless and mischievous. When a band of Native Americans burns their farm to the ground and captures Regina and Barbara, Barbara is the one who tries to escape and find help. However, her escape fails and she is recaptured. Now all the girls have are each other. But they are separated when Barbara is sent to live in another village, and Regina feels quite alone. Then she slowly befriends a young girl named Sara, and they are both given to a harsh old woman named Woelfin. Slowly Woelfin and her son, Tiger Claw, seem to accept Sara and Regina. The children begin to learn their the traditions of their new home. They even mourn as their neighbors are lost to the guns and diseases of the white man.

This was a shocking story about hope, survival, and courage. It portrayed the life of a young woman living under those circumstances very well, and as you start to know Regina, you begin to feel happy when she accomplishes something, and to mourn along with her when a friend is lost. It was an amazing book.

This book is for the Back to History Challenge.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Book Awards Challenge II

I am excited to start the Book Awards II Challenge, and I have my list of books all ready. Here it is:

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (Alex Award)

Looking for Alaska by John Green (Printz Award)

How I Live Now by Meg Rossoff (Printz Award)

The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton (Edgar Award)

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (Newbery Award)

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (Nebula Award and Hugo Award)

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (Carnegie Award)

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Pulitzer Prize)

The Ghost Drum: A Cat's Tale by Susan Price (Carnegie Award)

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (Pulitzer Prize)


Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Hugo Award for Best Novella, Nebula Award for Best Novella, and Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers)

A Stillness at Appomattox by Bruce Catton (National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize in History)

Monday, August 04, 2008

All My Patients are Under the Bed (book review)

All My Patients are Under the Bed, by Dr. Louis J. Camuti, is the tale of his career making house calls for pets in New York City. His job is not limited merely to cats. He has also visited pigeons, monkeys, and ocelots, as well as a few dogs. This has led the author to conclude, "If an animal can fit through an apartment window in Manhattan, someone will have it as a pet."
Camuti has treated celebrity cats, burglar cats, wildcats, and even a ghost cat! And there are spots in his heart...and in this book...for all of them.

This book was a very fast read, faster than I expected. It was heartwarming and funny, but also very sad. Some of the stories are of heartfelt goodbyes, others of bright new beginnings. And you learn a lot along the way, as well, about the behavior of cats, and also how to care your best for them.

This book was for the Nonfiction five Challenge.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Lucy and her Times (book review)

Lucy and her Times, by Paseal Pieg and Nicole Verrechia, was the first book I read for the Nonfiction Five Challenge. It was about the evolution of humans and some of the earliest people who lived. One of the most famous of these people was Lucy. She looked sort of like a modern day woman, but was shorter and hairier. She lived in the Afar region of Ethiopia, and although scientists don't know much about Lucy's social life, they do know that she ate fruit, nuts, eggs, and grubs. As Lucy and her kind lived on the savanna, they in turn were eaten by jaguars and other large predators. Unfortunately, however, we still don't have answers to many questions. But scientists are still searching for answers to the mystery of Lucy and human evolution, so you never know...they just might find something amazing!

I enjoyed this book, and I learned a lot from it. It made me want to read more books in this series (the W5) and look more into the topic of early humans. One thing I enjoyed about this book was that it was neither too complicated nor overly simplistic.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Princess and the Hound (book review)

The Princess and the Hound, by Mette Ivie Harrison, is the story two very different people who must marry one another despite all the barriers between them. In the kingdom of Kendel, Prince George keeps the dark secret of his forbidden animal magic. Keeping this secret eats away at him every day. In the kingdom of Sarrey, Princess Beatrice keeps an equally distressing secret...she isn't the Princess at all, but a wild hound trapped in a woman's body. These two are bound to marry for duty, but how can they when their secrets form a barrier that neither can breach?

This book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but where the Beast is an animal trapped in the body of a woman. However, it was very different from the original fairy tale, and could almost be considered a fairy tale of its own. I liked soft-hearted George and proud, stubborn Beatrice, and I can't wait to read the sequel, The Princess and the Bear.

Outfoxing Fear (book review)

Outfoxing Fear, edited by Kathleen Ragan, is a collection of folktales about (you guessed it) fear. Anything that people have feared over the years--from ghosts and demons to vicious tigers to death and disease--you will find a folktale about in this book. There are stories of clever foxes and man-eating tigers, brave war heroes, and malicious devils. If you are looking for tales to keep you up all night reading, you've found the right book!

I definitely adored this collection of folk tales, and I will treasure it for a long time. There was a vast assortment of characters. I particularly liked the clever old woman in "What are you Most Scared Of?" who outwitted the devil that came knocking at her door.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Homecoming (book review)

Homecoming, by Cynthia Voigt, is the first book in the award-winning Tillerman saga. It tells the story of the four Tillerman children, abandoned by their mother in the parking lot of a mall with nothing but a few dollars. Dicey, the oldest of the children, leads her siblings on to the small hope they have...the promise of a beautiful seaside mansion belonging to their Great-Aunt Cilla. But when they get there, the children find that Cilla has died and her daughter, Eunice, does not have the kind of home and attitude they have been looking for. The younger children are having problems at school and only their brother James is seeming to enjoy it. So the children march off, their future unknown to them. Their mysterious grandmother is the children's last hope. What will they do if they cannot even find a home there?

I enjoyed this book very much, although it wasn't perfect. I think it was a bit rash of Dicey to just head off to her mysterious grandmother with her siblings after she found life with Eunice unfitting. Normal children don't just leave their homes whenever they feel like it. She didn't even know what life was like there. But other than that, this book was an amazing journey of hardship and trust where the reader grows along with the characters.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Finishing Becca (book review)

In Finishing Becca, by renowned historical fiction author Ann Rinaldi, young Becca is chosen to leave the hard work on her farm behind and work for a rich Loyalist family in Philadelphia. The year is 1778, and Philadelphia is a hotspot for Revolutionary war happenings. Becca can't wait to see the city for herself, her stepfather can't wait for her to get away from him, and her mother can't wait for her to finally get a formal education. The people she is to work for are well-educated socialites, the Shippens, and surely they can give Becca a rich girl's education. But the only thing Becca gets an education in is mendacity, because young and beautiful Peggy Shippen has set her sights on the American general Benedict Arnold, and she will do anything to turn him to her side. Becca can only watch in astonishment and disgust as Peggy woos Arnold into turning against his native country.

It was interesting to see this important historical event from a maid's point of view. As the story unfolds, Becca finds herself a part of the Shippens' duplicitous dealings, so the reader gets to see what happens through the eyes of someone who was close to the family. This book wasn't the best that I have read by Ann Rinaldi, but it did not disappoint me (her books never do).

This book was read for the Back To History Challenge.