Friday, May 30, 2008

Greenwitch (book review)

Greenwitch is the third in the Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper. In the story, the three Drew children set out towards the coastal town of Trewissick in search for a lost grail that is of great importance to them. Another boy joins them on their quest. His name is Will Stanton, and he appears to be shy and goofy. But appearances aren't everything, for deep inside, Will has the heart of an Old One, an ancient Immortal. He is wiser than they think.
The three mortal children are also unaware of the sinister importance of the Greenwitch, a strange symbol woven of leaves and branches that is thrown into the sea every year. They do not know that the Greenwitch is truly alive, and it has something that they dearly need...

Although this book was good, I don't think it was as good as the first two. It was shorter, but that wasn't what I really meant. It just didn't have the same sense of adventure and mystery as the first two. It was more like a stereotypical fantasy-quest story. It was however, unique in the sense of the Greenwitch and the Old Ones. I still enjoyed it greatly, and I am definitely sticking with the last two.

Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits (book review)

This was a book of six short stories about elemental spirits, by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson. There were tales of mermaids, sea serpents, krakens, and less known things (like a mysterious golden eye and an enormous horse made out of water). In some stories, the heroes and heroines were human, and in some, they were sea-people. These two authors spun six magnificent tales and turned a simple element into something to be feared.

My favorite stories were "The Sea-King's Son", "Kraken", and "Water Horse". Also high on my list was "A Pool in the Desert". "Mermaid's Song" was okay, but I really hated "Sea Serpent". I wish the authors had written more stories like these ones, although I don't know for sure if they have or not. Some stories were typical fantasy-romance tales, and others were dark and disturbing. But overall, I loved this book!

The Prophet of Yonwood (book review)

The Prophet of Yonwood, by Jeanne DuPrau, was the last book of the Ember series. In it, young Nickie and her aunt Crystal travel to the odd town of Yonwood (Crystal has a house there that she is hoping to sell) and settle in to Crystal's mysterious mansion...for a while at least. Nickie has set herself three goals: convince Crystal to keep the house, fall in love, and do something to help the world (at this point, Earth was about to enter World War III). She finds herself, like many other people in the city, following the words of the mysterious Prophet Althea Tower. Althea has had a horrible vision of death and destruction soon in the future. Nickie hopes that following the Prophet's words will help her accomplish goal #3. But, as time goes by, Nickie starts to following this strange Prophet really the right thing to do? Nickie will soon have to make one of the most important decisions of her life, one that could change it forever.

This book was the best of all three! I thought you couldn't beat the first two, but I was wrong! This book was really like a prequel to the first one, which I thought was interesting. There was just enough mystery, adventure, and humor in this book to create a wonderful tale!

Gregor and the Code of Claw (book review)

Gregor and the Code of Claw, by Suzanne Collins, is the fifth and final book of the Gregor series. Gregor, a normal kid from New York City, now feels at home in the strange underground world full of giant cockroaches, rats, mice, and bats. But that is about to change. A war between the humans and rats is quickly approaching, and it is a war to end all wars. Even more, there is a new prophecy and (you guessed it) this one also features Gregor. But this prophecy isn't like the others. And for another thing, it proves to be even more misleading than the prophecies usually are. For another thing, it calls for Gregor's death.

While Gregor and his "girlfriend", the intrepid princess Luxa, are off fighting in the war, in the capital of Regalia, Gregor's sister and a team of code crackers are struggling as well. They are desperately trying to crack a code that will help the humans come out victorious. Poor Lizzy now finds the fate of Regalia...and of her older brother... in her hands!

This book was probably the best of them all, which is hard to believe. I loved the amount of suspense in this book, and the plot was excellent. I am really sad that the series is over, but glad that I read the book. The ending was also very unexpected, sad, and yet happy in a strange way.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nancy Drew (book reviews)

I read three Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene, The
Clue of the Tapping Heels
, The Haunted Bridge, and the Secret of the Golden Pavilion. In the first book, the intrepid detective Nancy Drew has to tackle two mysteries at once. She must catch both a mysterious catnapper and a strange code tapper. All the while, she has to watch her step--because someone (or something) is following her, and leaving a trail of sabotage behind.

In the second book, Nancy and her friends head to the Deer Mountain lodge to participate in a golf tournament, while Nancy works on her latest case with her father, who is trying to catch a ring of jewel thieves. Although Nancy is already busy, she can't resist investigating a so-called "haunted" bridge deep in the woods. But what Nancy finds may lead to one of her most difficult cases yet...

The final Nancy Drew book that I read for this challenge was set in Hawaii. Nancy and her father are trying to catch an elusive gang called the Double Scorps. Then, Nancy gets an invitation from one of her father's friends to his mansion in Hawaii, along with her friends! While there, mysteries keep popping up. Who are the two twins who claim to have inherited a share of the mansion from their grandfather? What is the secret of the strange golden pavilion down by the beach? Is it haunted? Are members of the Double Scorps hiding out in Hawaii? And, most important of all, how are these events all connected? Find out the answers to all these questions when you read The Secret of the Golden Pavilion!

I enjoyed all of these books, but the Haunted Bridge was my favorite. It was just the right mixture of creepy, funny, and suspenseful to make a great mystery book. I thought The Secret of the Golden Pavilion was interesting, especially because, when this book was written, Hawaii had just joined the Union. I was wondering...if Carolyn Keene had written the book in today's time, would it have been different? The Clue of the Tapping Heels was a good book too, and I liked how the separate events all connected in the end.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Joining another challenge

It's the End of the World As We Know It Challenge, hosted by Becky. Thanks Becky!

Here's my list:

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau (I love this series!)

The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Wright 3 (book review)

The Wright 3, by Blue Balliet, is a sequel to the bestselling book Chasing Vermeer. In the book, best friends Calder and Petra find themselves involved in another art mystery--this one involving the Robie House, a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The town plans on demolishing the house, but Calder and Petra know that can't happen. As they try to save the house, they notice eerie things happening. Mysterious voices drift out from inside the house, the patterns of its windows change, and its roof occasionally "ripples", like a waking beast. As what started out as a quest to save a piece of art turns into a hunt for ghosts, the story is complicated by yet another factor: Calder's old best friend Tommy is back, and he hasn't been counting on Calder hanging out with someone else.

This story was funny and engaging, but I didn't think it was as good as the first book. I didn't like Tommy being added into the picture, and I thought the book would have been better without him.

Ratha's Creature (book review)

Ratha's Creature, by Clare Bell, is the engaging tale of a clan of intelligent wildcats, the Named, who have a civilized society with laws and traditions. However, the savage and uncivilized raiders of the Un-Named are pushing the clan to the edge of survival. But when Ratha, who is just a yearling, discovers a weapon she calls the Red Tongue (fire), it may change everything. However, Ratha's discovery provokes the anger of the foolish and unwise clan leader, Meoran, and Ratha is banished to the ranks of the Un-Named.

In order to survive among the Un-Named, Ratha must push herself to the limit. She must fight and kill like she has never done in her time with the Named. Then comes the time that will change it all: Ratha must participate in a killing spree against her own clan!

I really enjoyed this book. I thought Ratha was a clever and thoughtful heroine who many people could relate to, even though she is a wildcat. Although the book was sad at times, it turned out all right in the end and I am interested to see what new adventures await in the second book, Clan Ground.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Horns and Wrinkles (book review)

This book, by Joseph Helgerson, is the story of twelve-year-old Claire and her bully cousin Duke. In the beginning, Duke, after throwing Claire off a bridge and into their stretch of the Mississippi River, suddenly sprouts a horn. Claire learns from a mysterious old lady that the only way for Duke to lose his horn is for him to do an act of genuine kindness. Claire knows that there is a slim chance of that, especially when she discovers that Duke has been hanging out with a trio of river trolls. Suddenly, Claire finds herself caught up in a quest to save the trolls' fathers. The journey is full of danger, laughs, and adventure. And on the way, Claire may find that she is more than who she thought...

I loved this book! It was funny, cute, and packed with adventure and mystery. I found myself longing for a sequel at the end!

Sandry's Book (book review)

In this book by Tamora Pierce, four outcasts come together. There is Sandry, a spunky noble; Briar, a street boy; Tris, a girl who, at her old boarding home, is labeled the "fattie", and Daja, a shipwrecked Trader girl. When they are all brought together at the Winding Circle community, they discover that they have powers they never imagine. Sandry can weave threads together and create light. When disaster strikes Winding Circle, the only place she has ever been accepted, Sandry must weave together all four kinds of magic to save herself, her friends, and their whole community.

Although I enjoyed this book, it wasn't as good as the other book I have read by this author, Terrier. I will still want to read the rest of the series, however, and I was excited to find that there is actually more than one series featuring these same characters.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

To Be a Slave (book review)

To Be a Slave, by Julius Lester, is a collection of true stories told in the words of the slaves themselves. There are stories of how slavery in the United States began, of how the slaves came to this country, of life on the plantation, and of freedom.

All the stories are incredibly sad and give us a glimpse of what it was like to be a slave in those days. What made these stories all the more moving was the fact that they were true, and told from the mouths of the real slaves. It made me appreciate the strength and courage of the slaves even more. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dragonsdale (book review)

Dragonsdale, by Salamandra Drake, is the story of Cara. She lives with her father, Dragonmaster Huw, at a riding school called Dragonsdale. Cara's friends, Wony and Breena, are busy getting ready for the Island Championships, where they and their dragons will compete against others at an exciting event. Cara herself has been forbidden to ride since her mother's terrible accident a long time ago. But against her father's wishes, Cara trains the wild dragon named Skydancer in secret and dreams of a day when they can take flight with her friends.

I liked how the dragons in this world were like the horses in our world, and how the author took a fearsome creature and turned it into a girl's best friend. I want to read the next novel, Riding the Storm, soon!

The Rivers of Zadaa (book review)

The Rivers of Zadaa, by DJ MacHale, is the sixth installment in the Pendragon series. In it, Bobby Pendragon and his warrior friend Loor have to stop an oncoming war between two tribes on the territory of Zadaa, the Rokador and the Batu. They aren't making much progress until their dying friend, Bokka, tells them of a horrible secret and of an evil man named Saint Dane living deep in the heart of the Rokador's capital city, Kidir. As Travelers, Bobby and Loor know that Saint Dane is an evil demon determined to destroy all the territories in the universe.

When Bobby and Loor venture into the heart of Kidir, what they find is...nothing! The city is abandoned. Saint Dane has given the Rokador an evil plan, a plan that may destroy both tribes! They have to stop him before it's too late.

This sixth book is perhaps the best one yet! It made me want to run out and buy the next one right away! This one was jam-packed with adventure. I'll be sad when this series is over, although I have at least two more books to go.

The Borrowers (book review)

This book is for the Book Awards Challenge.

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, is the story of a family of three tiny people, Pod, Homily, and Arietty. They live a peaceful life, borrowing things from the "human beans", as they call humans. Then, everything changes when Arietty is seen by a young boy and develops a friendship with him. In a way, you could say that the boy is "taming" Arietty, who has been taught all her life to fear the humans and stay away from them. When the mean-hearted cook discovers the Borrowers' home, they have to make a run for it. Help comes from a most unexpected place--the human boy! Using his cover, they escape into the fields to start a new life there, without the constant threat of humans.

This book was cute, but it wasn't one of the best I ever read. My favorite character was Arietty, whose intrepid nature added a lot to the story. Though I may read other books by this author in the future, I don't see myself running out to buy any right away.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Molly Moon, Micky Minus, and the Mind Machine (book review)

Molly Moon, Micky Minus, and the Mind Machine, by Georgia Byng, is the fourth installment of the Molly Moon series. In this book, Molly Moon, eleven-year-old hypnotist, time traveler, and time stopper, has gone to the future to look for her lost brother, Micky. She finds him in a horrible city, a city of hypnotized citizens and mutant animal-humans (actually, the latter are very helpful later in the book). And to top it all off, the city is ruled by a six-year-old! But bratty Princess Fang isn't just any six-year-old. She's also an evil genius who has invented a machine to suck the knowledge out of people.

Molly has to find her brother before it's too late! But when Princess Fang catches her sneaking around the castle, she puts Molly on the mind machine and sucks her hypnotic knowledge out!

Without her special powers, how can Molly ever save Micky and get out of this horrible place? Well, soon enough Molly discovers that she has a new incredible ability--she can read minds!

I liked this book, and I thought it was just as good as the previous three. Each adventure was unique and different, and it makes me look forward to the next one even more! The books are funny, scary, and action-packed!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Another challenge

I'm excited to join the Nonfiction Five Challenge again. Here's a list of some of my possible reads:

Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee
by Dee Brown

Catwatching by Desmond Morris

Coyote by Catherine Reid

All my Patients are Under the Bed by Dr. Louis J Camuti

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

The Usborne Introduction to the Second World War by Paul Dowsell

Bobcat by Hope Ryden

Lucy and her Times by Paseal Pieg and Nicole Verreehia

Witch-Hunt by Marc Aronson