Monday, March 31, 2008

Diary of a Fairy Godmother (book review)

Diary of a Fairy Godmother, by Esme Raji Cortell, is the story of Hunky Dory. Her mother has always said that she will be the wickedest witch wherever the four winds blow. Everyone believes it, too. She can curse babies, wilt flowers, and turn princes into frogs! The only problem is...she always changes them back.
When Hunky's aunt brings her to a castle to curse a baby, Hunky meets what the witches call FGs--Fairy Godmothers. The young witch is inspired by them, and she begins to dream of becoming one. This gets her kicked out of charm school. Now Hunky is alone in the world, rejected by her mom and aunt. But everyone will be surprised at what one girl with an old skateboard and big dreams can do!

This book wasn't a retold fairy tale, but it was a mix of many, including Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rumpelstiltskin. At first, it doesn't really pull you in, but once it gets going, you don't want to put it down! By the end, I found myself wishing that there was a sequel! It was a quick, simple, but very fun read!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Goose Girl (book review)

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale, is a retelling of the classic Grimms Fairy Tale. Princess Anidori (aka Ani) has a special gift: she can speak with birds. As she is Crown Princess and next in line to the throne, Ani has to learn how to socialize, something she isn't good at.
But then Ani gets a surprise: she isn't going to become queen of her kingdom, Kildenree, after all! She will marry the prince of Bayern and become queen there!

But on the journey, her trusted maid named Selia, along with half of Ani's guard, rebels. Ani manages to escape, but there is danger everywhere now. She ventures into the capital city and finds a job as a goose girl. She also finds a group of true friends. But Ani knows that sooner or later, she will have to face Selia and let everyone know who is the true princess...

I absolutely loved this book and I can't wait to read the sequel, Enna Burning. It was amazing how the author managed to keep every single detail from the fairy tale! My favorite character was Ani. She was strong and believable, and she didn't give up!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Northlander (book review)

Northlander, by Meg Burden, is the story of sixteen-year-old Ellin Fisher. She's with her father in the harsh Northlands, risking the Northlanders' hate to heal their dying king. As she stays in the castle, she befriends the king's sons. It is with them that she discovers the powers she has. She can talk to people in their heads, hear their thoughts, and control them! But she doesn't know that she is being watched by powerful Guardians who want to make sure that she never gets a chance to use these powers. Ellin will face betrayal, hate, and pain as she crosses the Northlands, trying to find a place that is safe for her.

I really, really loved this book, and I impatiently await the next book in The Tales of the Borderlands series! I would recommend Northlander to anyone who wants to read a tale of sorrow, adventure, and fantasy! Ellin was a very believable character who faced many hardships. She's the kind of character that you find yourself cheering on from beginning to end!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Pirate and the Princess: The Timelight Stone (book review)

The Timelight Stone, by Mio Chizhuru, is the story of ten-year-old Princess Noelle. Her parents are the rulers of the land Ladonia and the owners of a powerful object called the Zaria Stone Ring, which can see the future. Noelle lives a good life, but everything changes when Ladonia is attacked by another country. Noelle's parents are killed, and her brother disappears. Noelle herself is captured, but then a mysterious pirate ship, the Eurastia, comes to save her.
Aboard the ship Noelle meets the captain, Yuri. Yuri appears to be about sixteen years old, but in reality she has lived much longer, for she is from the future! Yuri is unable to return home until she rights a terrible wrong, so together Noelle and Yuri battle the evil land of Odenia, all the while trying to find a way to return Yuri home.

I liked this book, but it wasn't one of my favorites. I will be looking for the next books in the series at the library, though! Like Sea of Shadow, this book was originally written in Japan.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Secret of the Old Clock (book review)

This book is for the Full Circle Challenge.

The Secret of the Old Clock, by Carolyn Keene, is a book in the Nancy Drew series. In it, eighteen-year-old Nancy finds herself solving her first case. It involves a lost will written by a long dead man, Josiah Crowley, and a mysterious gray moving van full of stolen furniture. After Nancy meets some of Crowley's relatives and friends, she becomes more determined than ever to uncover the hidden will. But the key to solving both mysteries may lie in an old clock that no one has touched in a long, long time.

I liked this book, although it wasn't one of my favorite Nancy Drew stories. I enjoy the series, though. They're nice when I just want to read something quick and light.

the spring reading thing 2

I'm excited to join the Spring Reading Thing challenge again, because it was the first challenge I joined. Here is my list:

Against the Storm by Gaye Hicyilmaz

It's Not the End of the World by Judy Blume

The Only Way Out by Deborah Kent

The Wright 3 by Blue Balliet

Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech

The Clue Of The Tapping Heels by Carolyn Keene

The Haunted Bridge by Carolyn Keene

The Secret of the Golden Pavilion by Carolyn Keene

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle

Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle

The Mystery of Biltmore House by Carole Marsh

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Edited to add (3/25/08):

Pieces of Georgia by Jen Bryant

Starcross by Philip Reeve

The Real Benedict Arnold by Jim Murphy

Edited to add (4/10/08):

Best Dog Stories by varied authors

I'll Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech

Leonardo's Shadow by Christopher Grey

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Divide (book review)

This book is also for the 1st in a Series Challenge.

The Divide, by Elizabeth Kay, is the story of Felix. He's always had a severe heart problem, and he hates never knowing what day will be his last. Then, Felix wanders off in the jungles of Costa Rica. He faints on the Continental Divide--and falls right through it!
When Felix awakes, he finds himself in an upside-down dimension where mythical beasts are real and humans are mythical! He befriends Betony, an intrepid elf girl, and Ironclaw, a griffin who absolutely adores math. Can they help him find a cure for his illness and return home?

At the same time, Betony's sister and brother, Tansy and Ramson, along with friends Agrimony and Digger, are sparking a revolution in their world. Their mission is to stop the villainous pixie Snakeweed from poisoning the magical creatures of the world! The two groups will meet, and each will unknowingly help the other. In a world where science and magic collide, anything can happen!

This book was even better than the last one I read, The Fire Within. I'm glad that there are two more to go in this series! The unique and varied characters and settings provided for an amazing story!

The Fire Within (book review)

This book is also for the 1st in a Series Challenge.

The Fire Within, by Chris D'Lacey, is the story of twenty-year-old David. He is currently living with Elizabeth Pennykettle and her eleven-year-old daughter, Lucy. Liz's specialty is pottery, and she delights in making clay dragons. She makes David his own special dragon, named Gadzooks.
Gadzooks inspires David to write a story about squirrels, as Lucy loves them. But what starts out as a fantasy is beginning to become unnervingly true. Now, David sets out to discover the truth behind the mystery, but to solve it he will have to master the magic of the fire within, within his hands and his heart.

I absolutely loved this book, and I would run to a store and buy the sequel if I could! It was fantasy with a pinch of mystery, and that made for the perfect combination! I would recommend it to anyone who likes dragons, squirrels, and/or animal fantasy.

It is finally here!

I have been waiting so long for the Once Upon A Time II Challenge, and now it's here! This is my list:

Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson

A Wolf at the Door and Other Retold Fairy Tales by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

What-the-dickens: The Story Of A Rogue Tooth Fairy by Gregory Maguire

Horns & Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson

100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson

Beauty by Robin McKinley

The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann

The Map That Breathed by Melanie Gideon

Bright Shadow by Avi

The Arkadians by Lloyd Alexander

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

The Pirate and the Princess Book 1: The Timelight Stone by Mio Chizhuru

Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer

Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones

The Dark Is Rising: Greenwitch by Susan Cooper

The Dark Is Rising: The Grey King by Susan Cooper

The Dark Is Rising: Silver On The Tree by Susan Cooper

Ratha's Creature: The First Book of the Named by Clare Bell

Tales of the Borderlands: Northlander by Meg Burden

Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones

Warriors, Gods, and Spirits from South and Central American Mythology by Douglas Gifford

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Edited to add (3/25/08):

Diary of a Fairy Godmother by Esme Raji Codell

Mimus by Lilli Thal

Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins

Edited to add (4/10/08):

Physik by Angie Sage

Back to the Divide by Elizabeth Kay

Icefire by Chris D'Lacey

The Valley of Secrets by Charmian Hussey

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

Dragons: The Greatest Stories by varied authors

Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner

Edited, yet again, to add (4/19/08):

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Edited to add (4/21/08):

New Moon by Stephanie Meyer

Again (5/1/08):

Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman

Dragonsdale by Salamandra Drake

The Rivers of Zadaa by DJ MacHale

Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins

Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Amelia's War (book review)

This book is also for the Back To History Challenge.

Amelia's War, by Ann Rinaldi, is the story of Amelia, a young girl living in a small Maryland town during the Civil War. Neighbors and friends are torn apart because of their beliefs about the war. Amelia makes a special pact with her best friend Josh not to take sides. She doesn't want the war to ruin their friendship! However, that pact is tested when the Confederate Army marches into town with Josh's uncle as their leader. He wants the town to give his army supplies, and if it doesn't, he threatens to burn the town to the ground. Will Josh stick with Amelia, or will he help his uncle? The fate of Amelia's only home depends on his choice.

I really enjoyed this book. It built up the suspense at the end and then left me feeling satisfied with its conclusion. This was one of my favorites reads by Ann Rinaldi so far. I'm using a lot of her other books for the history challenge, and I hope they're all as good as this one!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Twilight (book review)

This book was also for the Chunkster Challenge.

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, is the story of seventeen-year-old Isabella Swan (more commonly known as Bella). She's currently living with her dad, Charlie, in a small and dreary town known as Forks. Bella is nervous about going to the high school in Forks, as she wasn't really accepted at her old school. But here she finds a ton of friends and is welcomed into the popular circle almost immediately.

However, Bella is drawn to a young boy named Edward Cullen. He and his siblings are outsiders at the school, and they are constantly given disapproving looks by their peers. But Bella ignores what everyone else thinks of them and befriends Edward. Soon she discovers a dark secret from his past--he's a vampire, and so are all of his "siblings" and "parents". Edward tells her that he and his family don't drink human blood, but when a different vampire catches Bella's scent, her very life is put at stake.

Like so many other people, I loved this book and its cliffhanger ending. I really want to know what happens next, so I'm going to buy the sequel as soon as I can! I really loved the combination of modern love story and traditional vampire story that made this book so unique!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow (book review)

The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow, by Fuyumi Ono, is the story of sixteen-year-old Yoko. She's a "good girl". She does her homework, never talks back, and is nice to everyone. But everything changes when a mysterious man appears at Yoko's school. He insists that she come with him, and Yoko finds herself dragged through a portal and into a land of demons, monster storms, and evil kings. In this strange world where it seems as if everyone is out to get her, Yoko learns the most important lesson here: trust no one, not even yourself.

This book was very good! One of the things I found interesting about it was that this story was originally written in Japan and translated into English. It was cool to hear Yoko talking about World War II and other events from the Japanese point of view. I also loved the beautiful drawings! This was definitely a winner!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The War of the Worlds (book review)

The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells, is a science fiction story set in the 1890's. It is the story of an invasion of Earth by Martians and a struggle for survival alone in a world of fear and hunger. There are two parts to the story, The Coming of the Martians and The Earth Under the Martians. The first book, as you might guess, is about how the Martians came to Earth and how the invasion began. The second book tells how the main character struggled to survive in a world that seemed devoid of human life after the Martians attacked.

I enjoyedThe War of the Worlds a lot. It was more than just a science fiction book. It was also a story of adventure and terror that kept me guessing until the end!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I Was A Rat! (book review)

I Was A Rat!, by Philip Pullman, is the story of young Roger. He shows up one night on Bob and Joan's porch, insisting that he was a rat. That may have been so, but what is he now? The hospital nurse insists that he's a victim of "Rodent Delusion". Mr. Tapscrew wants to turn this little boy into nothing more than a fairground freak. And Billy's sure that he'll learn to thieve pretty quickly. But Roger is just a boy. Yes, he's a little ratty, but he's just a boy. The only problem is--how will Bob and Joan convince the rest of the world?

This book was fast and unbelievably good. It was a twist on a common fairy tale, though you might not be able to guess which one at first. It definitely wasn't as good as His Dark Materials, but I loved it all the same!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Wyrd Sisters (book review)

Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett, is the story of three witches: Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick, and Granny Weatherwax. They are generally non-social witches who don't meddle in people's business unless necessary. However, when an evil duke steals the throne in the kingdom of Lancre, it will take everything they've got to thwart his plans and put the true king on the throne.

I loved this book, but not as much as I did its prequel, Equal Rites. The characters in both were different and fun, and the settings were new and exciting! I would recommend Terry Pratchett's Discworld books to anyone who's looking for a unique twist on fantasy.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Just So Stories (book review)

Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling, is a collection of fantastic creation stories. From How the Rhinoceros got his Skin to How the Alphabet was Made, these stories will leave you laughing, crying, and more!

I absolutely loved these stories! My favorite stories were The Cat That Walked By Himself and How the Alphabet was Made. I have Kipling's book Kim, and I really hope I enjoy it as much as I did this one.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Tulip Touch (book review)

The Tulip Touch, by Anne Fine, is the story of Natalie. She and her family have always lived in hotels, but when they move to The Palace, Natalie's life changes forever. For this is where she meets Tulip. No one else has befriended Tulip, and it's easy to see why. She tells the most outrageous lies and is mean to everyone else. But Natalie is somehow drawn to her. Her dad calls it "the Tulip Touch". At first, Natalie has nothing against the games they play, like Stinking Mackerel and Road of Bones. But the games start getting more and more gruesome and dangerous. Does Natalie have what it takes to say good-bye to Tulip, once and for all?

This was a very sad book. It was the story of a child who, abused at home, takes her anger and sadness out on everyone else. Near the end of the book, Natalie says, "I felt sorry for Tulip, and guilty. Guilty."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Vampire Plagues Book Two: Paris, 1850 (book review)

Vampire Plagues Book Two: Paris, 1850, by Sebastian Rook, is the continuing story of Jack, an English urchin, and Ben and Emily, a wealthy boy and his sister. Having fought the vicious vampire god Camazotz earlier in the year, Ben and Emily are tired but optimistic. They think Camazotz has been banished to the deepest depths of Hell. But Jack isn't so sure. Was he really imagining the vampire god's voice promising to return? As his friends soon find out, Jack was right. But he's not in London anymore; he's in France. Now Jack, Ben, and Emily, with the help of a spunky French girl, Dominique, have to fight Camazotz once more, and this time they might not win.

I don't think I liked this book as much as the last, but it was still very good. The mix of old and new characters was interesting. I can't wait to read the next one in this series.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Lady Grace Mysteries: Assassin (book review)

Assassin, by Patricia Finney, is the story of Lady Grace. She is lady-in-waiting to Her Majesty the Queen of England, Elizabeth I. But Lady Grace isn't like her fellow ladies in waiting. She isn't afraid to get down and dirty if it involves a mystery. And now, Lady Grace has one on her hands. One of her suitors is dead with a knife in his back. Another one is under suspicion, and yet another suitor of hers has been acting strangely ever since the murder. Can Lady Grace, along with a daring Middle Eastern acrobat and a serving girl, solve the mystery and find out who truly murdered Sir Gerald?

This book was okay, but certainly not one of my favorites. I'm looking forward to reading the next one, but there are definitely other books I would like to read first. I did, however, think the mix of historical fiction and mystery made the story interesting and exciting.