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.