Friday, December 31, 2010


By Robert Harris

Start Date: 3 September 2010
End Date: 18 December 2010
400 pages (Paperback Edition)
Published 7 August 2007
Recommended for: High school or adult readers interested in history

Imperium is about the complex politics of Ancient Rome. The story is centered on Cicero, a Roman politician. The first part of the story follows him as he learns how to be an orator and Harris slowly introduces the reader to some of the characters that are to play a larger part later. Then he begins to build his reputation as a lawyer and prosecutes Gaius Verres, an extremely corrupt governor. Both during an after that accomplishment, he struggles to gain imperium, political power, by cleverly maneuvering the treacherous waters of Roman politics.

As I’ve mentioned several times in earlier posts, the beginning of this book was incredibly slow. However, I’m glad I stuck with it. About 60 or 70 pages in, it was engaging enough for me to get the nagging little voice in the back of my mind that pops up whenever I’m reading a good book, telling me to “just read a few more pages; forget the math homework.” About halfway through the book it got to a climax, the thing that he was working towards for the entire book to that point, and it was getting really interesting and really good, and then he had the climax and the resolution and then there was still another half of the books to go, and I was like, what the heck? At that point, part I ends, and Harris moves on to part II. Part II is written in a much more engaging style than part I, partially because the reader already knows the characters and partially because part II feels like a sequel rather than a continuation of the story. Harris focuses less on individual details and writes with a slightly different style as well as having a different goal than part I.

Ultimately, I would recommend it (mostly to adult readers, I think high schoolers would get bored much to quickly) but be prepared to stick with it through the slow bits.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Forgotten Stories

A few days ago I was thinking about authors, and how so many of the wonderful stories we read will be forgotten in 100 or even 50 years. It got me wondering about what we were missing out on, the stuff that was written in the early 1900s. And also what would last from our time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Life As Usual

   I haven’t been reading as much recently because it’s the week before winter break, so every teacher wants to squeeze in a test, quiz, or essay. I finished Imperium and liked it very much, so I will try to post a review by Monday night. I’ve been getting very behind on reviewing the books that I read – I finished Fablehaven at the end of November and I also wanted to review a holiday-related book for the holidays. Well, if anyone wants to know whether Emilia is the true hero of Othello, that’s the review I have right now, but I’m not going to post it because then I’d probably lose the 1 follower that I have.
   Since last nightstand update, I got The Danger Box (by Blue Balliett) as a gift, and it looks pretty good – I liked Chasing Vermeer and her others, so hopefully I’ll enjoy The Danger Box as well.
   Only 3 people voted in the poll for what I’m reading next, so I guess it’s up to me to choose between The Clockwork Three, Clan of the Cave Bear, and A Girl Named Disaster (no one voted for Eyes Like Stars). I guess I won’t be putting up any more polls for a while, until I have slightly more viewership. Well, I suppose that’s life – same as usual.

Friday, December 10, 2010


By Cornelia Funke

Start Date: 2 December 2010
End Date: 4 December 2010
400 pages (Hardcover edition)
Published: September 14, 2010
Age Recommendation: 12+

I was a little reluctant to read this book because I was afraid it’d be a bit too creepy for me, who has relatively low creepiness-tolerance. However, my worries thankfully were not fulfilled, and I devoured this book as quickly as possible.

One thing that bugged me was that Funke dives right in without a lot of back-story. This makes it a little confusing at first, because you don’t really know who any of the characters are or what is happening, but it keeps you (or at least it keeps me) reading, because you understand more with every sentence. But just to clear things up, the main 4 characters are:

Jacob Reckless: Main character. Discovers the Mirrorworld and becomes an adventurer, looking for his father.

Will: Jacob’s brother. Will follows Jacob into the Mirrorworld and gets scratched by a Goyl (a sort of rock-man known for their rages and mercilessness) and begins to become one.

Fox: Jacob’s… companion, I suppose. A girl who spends most of her him in the shape-shifted from of a fox.

Clara: Will’s girlfriend who follows him into the Mirrorworld. She becomes a major character, but I won’t say why.

Anyway, after the initial dive, the story gets much more engaging. Funke’s use of language is inspiring, especially since it was originally written in German and then translated. There were a few parts where I felt like I should be writing some of my favorite phrases down so I wouldn’t forget them. (Frustratingly, I didn’t actually write them down and have by now forgotten them.) The journey is fascinating and easily draws the reader into the Mirrorworld. Another thing that didn’t stand out quite as strongly for me but deserves mention are the fairy tales woven into the plot, many times slightly warped. For example, during the journey, they stay in Sleeping Beauty’s castle, but in the Mirrorworld, the prince never came to wake her. As in that case, the fairy tales of the Mirrorworld, in addition to being real, end quite a bit darker than the fairy tales we all know and love.

However, I was dissatisfied with the ending. It had the quality of an ending written for a sequel, but with the loose ends wrapped up a bit too tightly for a sequel. To me, it feels like an almost-happily-ever-after that should make a good ending but left me wanting more. [UPDATE: I just read that there is a planned sequel, so nevermind about that bit.]

Generally, I felt like the middle was good enough to make up for the less-than-wonderful beginning and ending. Although a bit creepy, it wasn’t nearly as much as I thought it’d be, and to repeat myself, the language was absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Post-Promise, Post-Hanukkah Nightstand

The once-giant pile is receding! I think I may have to cave soon and buy something new.

Eyes Like Stars (by Lisa Mantchev) and The Clockwork Three (by Matthew J. Kirby) were Hanukkah presents. I'm looking forward to them both. However, I'm determined to finish both Imperium and The Disappearing Spoon before I start them. I put a poll on the sidebar of this blog so that you can have some input for what I read next. Right now, I'm estimating the end of The Disappearing Spoon and the end of Imperium will take me until Sunday night (which is when I set the poll to end), but if I end up changing that date, I'll make sure to post it.

[Update: There's no way I'm going to finish by Sunday. I'm extending to poll until Friday the 17th.]

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Sea of Trolls, Revised Review

By Nancy Farmer

Looking back, I was surprised by how completely uninformative my previous review of this series was, so I thought I’d redo it.

If you want to read my old review, the link is here:

Here’s my new review.

First of all, I really, really liked this series. It takes place when the Vikings were raiding Saxon villages in the late 700s and early 800s CE. Jack, the main character of the Sea of Trolls books, lives in one of these villages. He and his sister Lucy are captured by a band of northmen (Vikings). They are nearly sold as slaves, but are spared because Jack had been training as a bard, and the leader of the northmen’s band, Olaf One-Brow, wants Jack to stay on as his personal bard (called a skald in the northmen’s language). Jack and Lucy are taken to see the king and queen of the northmen, Ivar the Boneless and Frith Half-troll. When Jack accidentally casts a spell with his skald-magic to make Frith’s beauty disappear, she takes Lucy and sends Jack on a quest to find a way to undo his spell with a warning that if he takes too long, she will sacrifice Lucy to the god Freya. Jack, Olaf, and the other vikings go on this quest to find Mimir’s well, which would give him the knowledge necessary to undo the spell and save Lucy. The most important of the vikings (and my favorite) is Thorgil, a shieldmaiden determined to prove herself a shieldmaiden worthy of Valhalla (the northmen’s heaven, reserved for the greatest warriors). Although quickly angered, crabby, and inconsiderate, she has the greatest character arc of any character in the series. It’s a great books with tons and tons of historical references that enrich the novel rather than slow it down.

The second and third books are great as well. I’m not going to summarize these because I don’t want to give away anything from the end of the 1st book, but it brings back great characters like Thorgil, Jack, and the Bard, and introduces new ones that are just as good. I highly recommend this entire series.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Great Tree of Avalon

By T.A. Barron

Book 1: Child of the Dark Prophecy
Start Date: 21 November 2010
End Date: 23 November 2010

Book 2: Shadows on the Stars
Start Date: 23 November 2010
End Date: 24 November 2010

Book 3: The Eternal Flame
Start Date: 25 November 2010
End Date: 25 November 2010

Overall, I really liked this series, although I wouldn’t recommend reading them back to back in five days. (By the time I got to the middle of the third, I was getting sick of the storyline and needed a break.) The trilogy is a hero’s journey with three interconnecting plotlines that might be a little confusing at first: Tamwyn, a wilderness guide trying to find his brother and his own sense of self; Scree, an eagleman charged with protection of Merlin’s staff, and the foster-brother of Tamwyn; and Elli, an apprentice priestess who sets off on a journey to the Lady of the Lake. One of these is the true heir of Merlin, with the power to save Avalon. Another is the Child of the Dark Prophecy, with the power to destroy it. I really liked the entire trilogy, although it could get a little bit slow at times. Barron mostly drew me in with his masterful descriptions of the world of Avalon and his expert weaving of the three storylines. Also, it often references the Lost Years of Merlin books by T.A. Barron because they’re semi-prequels. However, you do not need to read The Lost Years of Merlin in order to understand or appreciate the Avalon books, because even though they’re mentioned, it’s in the context of pre-Avalon history rather than as an essential part of the plot. Overall, these books are long but recommended.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I’d like to bring your attention to…

two blogs that I read every day and thought you might enjoy.

The first, Space Station Nathan, is the blog of Nathan Hale, illustrator of Rapunzel’s Revenge (a phenomenal graphic novel written by Shannon and Dean Hale) and several great picture books. What makes this blog special is his daily comics, which are very fun and always a highlight of my day. Right now he's finishing up a dragon-naming contest with guest judge and fantastic author Jessica Day George. (Click here to see my review of her book Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow.) I recommend this blog to everyone -- kids, teens, and adults. Link:

The second blog, The Secret Adventures of WriterGirl, is the blog of Heather Zundel, AKA the superhero WriterGirl. She posts almost every day with something fun, interesting, and usually about books. I like that every day is something different but she has certain guidelines that she posts about. For example, every other Monday she posts a post called Monday’s Muse, and every Friday she posts a Feature Fun Friday. One of her most fun events was the YA Fantasy Showdown. In this awesome showdown, she took characters from various YA novels and pitted them against each other in how she thought their battles might go. People voted on who they thought would win. This showdown introduced me to WriterGirl. Even though it's over (for now), it's worth checking out. The Secret Adventures of WriterGirl is a great blog that I highly recommend. Link:

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Promise (Almost) Fulfilled

Back in September, I promised I would read 10 of 14 books on my nightstand mentioned in that post before buying more books. Finally, with many pauses, breaks, gifts, and pre-orders arriving in between then and now, I have almost, almost fulfilled my promise. I have read 8 out of 10 books, but the other two are the 2nd two books of the Great Tree of Avalon Series, which I am going to finish by Thursday. Why am I not waiting until Thursday? I figured I would rather spend time with my family on Thanksgiving than write a post. So here is my “almost done” post. If you want to see my comments from back in September, scroll down to the bottom is this page or click on “Older Posts” at the bottom of the page. Some quick comments on the books:

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
Start Date: 15 September 2010
End Date: 6 October 2010
I loved this book from years of reading it by myself. Now, having read and analyzed it for class, not to mention writing an essay on it, I’m sure it’ll be a while before I can enjoy it fully again. That said, it is a great book.

Imperium, by Robert Harris
Start Date: 3 September 2010
End Date: Unfinished
Not quite finished yet. I’m about halfway through, but it’s getting more interesting now, so I think the second half will go faster than the first.

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
Haven’t started this yet. Still on the to-read list.

A Prince Among Frogs, by E.D. Baker
Start Date: 30 September 2010
End Date: 30 September 2010
I liked the series when I was younger. I’m not sure what my younger self would have said about this book. My older self says it’s really silly. Really, really silly.

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett
Start Date: 2 October 2010
End Date: 5 October 2010
I didn’t like this one as much as I thought I would, but it had some good parts, and it was interesting to read because it got deeper into questions about good and bad people. It definitely gave me things to think about.

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (Books 1-3), by Michael Scott
Start Date: 15 October 2010
End Date: 20 October 2010
I already posted about these. Mixed feelings, but a thumbs up if you’re the type of person who can push through an okay beginning to a good ending.

Pompeii, by Robert Harris
I still haven’t started it. I get the feeling that this book is going to have to wait a while before I get to it.

The Grimm Legacy, by Polly Shulman
Start Date: 19 November 2010
End Date: 19 November 2010
I started this book with pretty low expectations. I had recently read a bunch of semi-disappointing books, and I had never heard of this book or this author before. However, even though the beginning was only so-so, the middle and end get really good and I found myself carrying the book around the house so that I could read whenever I had 2 minutes. Although I do have a few small criticisms, I really liked it overall.

The Great Tree of Avalon (Books 1-3), by T. A. Barron
Start Date: 21 November 2010
End Date: Unfinished
This series was a re-read. I really liked it the first time around, but for some reason I can’t remember the answer the question that the entire trilogy revolves around, so I decided I needed to go back and remind myself. Also, I recently read T. A. Barron’s The Lost Years of Merlin, and I was surprised how much this trilogy refers to it. (I knew it was a sequel series, but I didn’t realize how involved the Lost Years series was in the Avalon books. Generally a very good trilogy, not too long (like the Inheritance Cycle) and a fun read.

The Bromeliad Trilogy, by Terry Pratchett
Haven’t started this one yet. I’ll get to it eventually.

So, that’s the end of the original 14. However, I read more than just the ten books from that list. So, here’s the other stuff I read:

The Sea of Trolls Trilogy, by Nancy Farmer
Start Date: 7 October 2010
End Date: 15 October 2010
This was a book I already owned but wanted to re-read.
I already posted about these. Thumbs up.

Morning Girl, by Michael Dorris
Start Date: 24 October 2010
End Date: 24 October 2010
This was a book I got at the book swap.
I read this in elementary school. If I needed a book to remind me how much I’ve grown since then, this was it. Even still, it was enjoyable to re-read and I recommend it to all elementary schoolers.

The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan
Start Date: 24 October 2010
End Date: 27 October 2010
This was a pre-ordered book that arrived October 12th.
I already posted about this one too. I didn’t realize until now how up-to-date I was keeping my posts. What a nice surprise.

The Disappearing Spoon, by Sam Kean
Start Date: 28 October 2010
End Date: Unfinished
This was a book I borrowed from a friend.
A totally unusual and interesting look at the periodic table of elements. Recommended for people who are taking Chemistry now or have any interest at all in the subject. I would say it’s a high-school & up level book just because I think anyone who hasn’t taken Chem would get bored reading it.

Science Fair, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Start Date: 30 October 2010
End Date: 1 November 2010
This was a book I got at the book swap.
These are the same people who wrote Peter and the Starcatchers, but Science Fair wasn’t even close to being as good as the Starcatcher books. It was funny, but it wasn’t really my kind of humor. Overall, disappointing.

Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones
Start Date: 12 November 2010
End Date: 13 November 2010
This book was a gift.
This book was so good, especially after the disappointment of Science Fair. If you’ve seen the film Howl’s Moving Castle by Myazaki, you will have a pretty good idea of what this book is like, because the movie was based on this book. I first became interested in reading this book when Howl almost won the YA Fantasy Showdown ( – I want to write an entire post about it later). Anyway, the book was really great, and I really liked it. I read it almost immediately after watching the movie, and I liked that it started out very similar to the movie and then went off onto it’s own original track. Definitely recommended.

The Ring of Solomon, by Jonathan Stroud
Start Date: 2 November 2010
End Date: 6 November 2010
This was a pre-ordered book that arrived November 2nd.
I didn’t like this book as much as the three original Bartimaeus books, but Stroud keeps it fun to read with Bartimaeus’ wit and the book’s compelling storyline.

Leviathan & Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld
Start Date: 14 November 2010
End Date: 16 November 2010
This was a book I got from the library.
I already reviewed Leviathan in an earlier post. Many times, the sequel is not as good as the original. This was not true for Behemoth. I want to read the third book, except that it hasn’t been published yet.

And that’s it! Now, back to finishing up those Avalon books…

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Lost Hero

By Rick Riordan
Start Date: 24 October 2010
End Date: 27 October 2010

It seems like Rick Riordan is coming dangerously close to running out of ideas. In my opinion, The Lost Hero is a template copy of the Percy Jackson setup. It takes place a little while after The Last Olympian (the last Percy Jackson book) and the three main characters, Jason, Piper, and Leo go on a quest together to save Olympus and by extension, the world from disaster.

Another thing that bothered me was the third person point of view, switching characters every chapter. It felt unnecessary and distracting to have each chapter focused on a different character, especially since they were all together for basically the whole book. In some books (e.g. Leviathan), it works really well to have switching points of view, but in this one, it made the story less accessible (to me) rather than more so.

Overall, it did have some funny parts and was generally fun to read, although not nearly as original as I had hoped.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


By Scott Westerfeld
Start Date: 14 November 2010
End Date: 15 November 2010

I finished Leviathan last night, and I really liked it. It reminds me a little bit of some other books (especially Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines books) in terms of the general premise, but the story was fast paced, engaging, and very, very well written. It takes place in an alternate Europe with parallels to the beginning of WWI. The fighting occurs between Darwinists, who use different strands of DNA in order to make semi-mythological creatures, and Clankers, who build huge war machines. It has the crossing stories of Deryn, a pilot of the British Air Service, and Aleksander, the would-be heir of the Austro-Hungarian empire. They each have a secret. Alek is trying to keep his identity hidden because both the Darwinists and the Clankers are trying to kill or capture him. Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in order to stay in the Air Service. It’s a great read that’s hard to put down. Recommended for middle- and high-school level readers.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Sea of Trolls

By Nancy Farmer

The Sea of Trolls
Start Date: 7 October 2010
End Date: 9 October 2010

This book was even better than I remembered. There was more history incorporated, and way more mythology that I had thought. What’s more, the story in itself was great, with memorable characters, a great plot, and striking scenes. Nancy Farmer expertly crafts layers of story that are peeled back after multiple readings.

I’m actually not going to write a summary of what happens, because I could never do it justice, but I will just say that it’s a great book that I highly recommend.

The Land of the Silver Apples
Start Date: 10 October 2010
End Date: 12 October 2010

The Islands of the Blessed
Start Date: 12 October 2010
End Date: 15 October 2010

Also, the costume is done! The “research” didn’t help that much, but it was great to reread the books.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

By Michael Scott

The Alchemyst
Start Date: 15 October 2010
End Date: 16 October 2010

The Magician
Start Date: 16 October 2010
End Date: 17 October 2010

The Sorceress
Start Date: 18 October 2010
End Date: 24 October 2010

The Necromancer
On my to-read list.

I read The Alchemyst for the first time several years ago. At that time, I was not impressed by the characters, the plot, and many other aspects of the story. However, when I recently received the first three books of this series as a gift, I decided to try it again. It still think it’s not fantastically written, but I enjoyed it and I thought each sequel made the story more complex and more interesting. Many people have bought these books because it involves Nicholas Flamel, a character mentioned in Harry Potter. However, Rowling did not make up Flamel specifically for Harry Potter. The Flamel in both Harry Potter and The Alchemyst is based on a real, historical person who lived in Paris in the 1300s and was rumored to have found the secret to eternal life. Scott also incorporates a host of other characters adapted from other sources, such as John Dee, William Shakespeare, Niccolo Machiavelli, Hekate, Gilgamesh, and many others. Overall, I would say that the first book is okay, but not great, and the second and third really pick up the pace and make the series a lot more interesting.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Book Swap, Part II

I thought I should post a picture of the great books I got at the Book Swap.

Bright Shadow, by Avi
I have no idea what it's about, but Avi is reliably good.

Science Fair, by Dave Barry and Ridely Pearson
I was so excited when I saw this book because Barry and Pearson also co-wrote the Peter and the Starcatchers series, which I loved. Science Fair seems like it will have a bit of a weaker plot, but these guys are great writers, and it's sure to be very funny.

Morning Girl, by Michael Dorris
Definitely below my reading level, but I remember really loving it, so I thought, why not?

A Girl Named Disaster, by Nancy Farmer
I love Nancy Farmer. She writes so well on such a variety of subjects. Also, A Girl Named Disaster is a Newbery Honor Book, so it must be good.

Tracker, by Gary Paulsen
I've never read any Gary Paulsen, but Hatchet has been on my shelf for as long as I can remember. I intend to start reading his books ASAP.

Fablehaven (Books 1-3), by Brandon Mull

Agatha Christie: Five Complete Novels, by Agatha Christie
Never read any Agatha Christie before, but a friend who gives me great book recommendations told me to try it out.

So anyway, those are the books I got at the wonderful MS Book Swap. Thank you again, great librarians. It was fantastic.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hurray for Book Swaps!

My school library just recently organized a Middle School book swap. Even though I’m not in MS, I got permission from the librarians to come after school and pick out books that people hadn’t chosen. Let me say this – it was awesome. There were tables full of books not chosen, and SO MANY great books that I wanted to pick. They were mostly MS-level (obviously) but there were some great books (e.g. The Giver, by Lois Lowry, A bunch of Avi books, some Nancy Farmer, a giant volume of Agatha Christie…. I could go on and on). I ended up picking out about ten that I’m very excited to read, but they’ll have to wait until after the giant stack has been reduced quite a bit. Since I took a break to read the Sea of Trolls trilogy (which I’ll hopefully be finishing tonight or tomorrow), I still have 10 of my 14 from a few posts ago patiently waiting to be read. And one more that I borrowed from my friend. And two more that I checked out of the library. It’s so nice to have books waiting to be read.

Thank you, very nice librarians!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Halloween Costume Research -- The Sea of Trolls

By Nancy Farmer
Start Date: hopefully tomorrow (6 October 2010)

For Halloween, my friend and I are going to dress up as Thorgil and Jack from Nancy Farmer’s The Sea of Trolls trilogy. So we’re both re-reading the series before we figure out our costumes. We call it research. The trilogy is set in Viking times, combining historical fiction with the fantastical Norse myths. It’s a great series that I hope to post a review of later on. For now, everything else (i.e. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett and a few other half-finished books) either gets finished tonight or put on pause until our research is completed.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Queen's Thief

By Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief
Start Date: 11 September 2010
End Date: 15 September 2010

This book was unexpectedly good. I had heard about it from multiple people who really liked it, but I wasn’t expecting it to be spectacular, merely good enough. However, a few chapters in, the story was quietly snatching hours from my day. When I finally put it down, I was surprised to see that it was a Newberry award winner. Looking back, it unquestionably (undoubtedly?) earned the title. I especially liked the development of the main character, Gen, and how even though the book is written in first person, the reader is still trying to figure him out by the end. The book is funny, engaging, and a fantastic read.

The Queen of Attolia
Start Date: 17 September 2010
End Date: 19 September 2010

The 2nd book of the series, I didn’t like it quite as much as The Thief, but again there was a very well-presented story, complex enough to keep the reader’s interest, but not so complicated that it’s confusing. Again, Gen is funny, surprising, and an overall great character.

The King of Attolia
Start Date: 23 September 2010
End Date: 25 September 2010

The 3rd book of the series. I got very frustrated reading the middle section of the book because I felt that Gen was not being nearly interesting enough, and the story was told from the point of view of Costis, a guard, who I frankly didn’t care about. But of course, being part of such a great series, it came together magnificently in the end. (I just love when books come together so nicely in the end, and all the little pieces of the story fall into place—it’s so great.) Although this particular book can be a little trying at times, it’s definitely worth it in the end.

I haven’t read the fourth book, A Conspiracy of Kings, yet. I will post when I do.
[EDIT: see my review here]

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Update on The Reading List

Since the last post, I read a bunch of the books on the list, and I also received a lot of new books in the mail (they were all pre-ordered, I didn't buy them since last time) so I thought I would give an update to what is on the nightstand.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
Start Date: 15 September 2010
I love this book, and have read it many times before, but it's back on the nightstand now because I'm reading it for school. This book is always a pleasure to read.

Imperium, by Robert Harris
Start Date: 3 September 2010
Got this as a birthday present from a good friend, and although I like it, it's a little slow and far too much historical of "historical fiction" for most people. I started this one in early September and I'm taking it a few chapters at a time, between other books.

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
I was supposed to read this for school, but it got taken off the reading list at the last minute. I got it anyway because my friends in other classes who are reading it say that it is quite good. It's surprisingly short, but I haven't started it yet, so I don't know if it's a slow read or not.

A Prince Among Frogs, by E.D. Baker
I started this series (Tales of the Frog Princess) when I was eight and loved it so much that I kept buying the books when they came out even when I totally and completely grew out of them. A Prince Among Frogs is the last (8th) book of the series, and even though I know it's ridiculous to still be reading these books, it's the last book, and it'll only take a few hours, so why not? I recommend this series to 8-12 year-olds. It's a great series, especially the first book, which inspired the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog, although in my opinion, the book is much, much better.

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett
The fourth Tiffany Aching book. The first three were great, and I'm really excited for this one.

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (Books 1-3), by Michael Scott
Still haven't gotten to these, but I will soon.

Pompeii, by Robert Harris
I'm pretty sure I forgot to include this last time, but it was given to me by the same friend who gave me Imperium. Apparently it's a little slower than Imperium (which is a kind of slow itself), but still good. I'm not going to read this until I finish Imperium.

The Grimm Legacy, by Polly Shulman

The Great Tree of Avalon (Books 1-3), by T. A. Barron

The Bromeliad Trilogy, by Terry Pratchett

I'll get to all of these soon, I will! And it's quite a bit less than it was last post, so I have been getting through this giant stack. Here is my promise: I will read at least 10 of these 14 books before I buy more.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Nightstand of Recent Times

As you can see, at the end of the summer, I went on a book-buying splurge. The result of said splurge was an enormous amount of books that I could not possibly get through before school started. So, this photo shows basically what I have been reading for the past three weeks or so, and whall I will be reading for the next few weeks.

Brisingr, by Christopher Paolini

A Matter of Magic, by Patricia C. Wrede

Imperium, by Robert Harris

The Reluctant Heiress, by Eva Ibbotson

A Company of Swans, by Eva Ibbotson

The Great Tree of Avalon (Books 1-3), by T. A. Barron

The Bromeliad Trilogy, by Terry Pratchett

The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner

The Fourth Bear, by Jasper Fforde

Gregor the Underlander (Books 1-5), by Suzanne Collins

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (Books 1-3), by Michael Scott

The Grimm Legacy, by Polly Schulman

P.S. Since this picture was taken, I have also bought Reckless, by Cornelia Funke, The Queen of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner, and The King of Attolia, also by Megan Whalen Turner.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris

R.L. LaFevers
Start Date: 23 August 2010
End Date: 23 August 2010

As the 2nd book in the Theodosia Throckmorton series, this book was a little easier to get comfortable with than The Serpents of Chaos. I knew the characters, I recognized the writing style, and I was enlivened by the thought of adventure in the pages ahead. Although slightly less original than the first in Theodosia's solution to the problems arising in the museum, the problems themselves are very fun to read about and only slightly ridiculous. Theodosia's commentary is enough to make you smile every few pages, and several twists make the story all the better. I wanted to read the third right away, but decided to wait for the paperback to come out in April. Hopefully by then there'll be a fourth!

[EDIT: I forgot to mention, there IS some Egyptian Mythology incorporated into both books, as the title suggests, but not much more than the basics. I wouldn't recommend it solely for this quality.]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Wee Free Men: The Beginning

Terry Pratchett

I didn't actually read this book. Why would I post about it then? Because when I bought this book, I assumed it was a prequel to The Wee Free Men and the other Tiffany Aching books. However, I later realized that it was just the first two books in the series combined into one volume. As much as I loved the books, I did not need another copy of them on my shelf. So, the point of this post is to say If you already have The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky you do not need to buy this book. It is not a sequel. However, the fourth Tiffany Aching book will be coming out in September. I look forward to reading it and I'll be sure to post about it, as well as the rest of the Tiffany Aching books, as soon as I can.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos

R. L. LaFevers
Start Date: 20 August 2010
End Date: 21 August 2010

After reading the first few chapters of this book, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I wasn’t really able to connect with the story or with the protagonist, Theodosia. However, once the action started, I was fully drawn into her quest, and this became a book worth staying up the night for. 11-year-old Theodosia spends her days in the Museum of Legends and Antiquities run by her father, educating herself about the artifacts in the museum. However, what makes her different from any overly-intelligent 11-year old is her ability to see the curses on the museum’s artifacts. As the only person able to see these curses, Theodosia has taken the responsibility of un-cursing the objects. Unfortunately (or fortunately for those readers who, like me, want to get the story moving) her mother, an archaeologist, brings home an artifact with a curse strong enough to affect all of Britain, Theodosia becomes tangled in a plot of international proportions. The ending is satisfying enough, but leaves the reader wanting a sequel, which, happily, there is: Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris. I’ll be reading that soon and will definitely post a review of it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Catching Up

It's been a while since I last posted, so I wanted to just give a quick overview of the books I've read since April. I'll write a few comments now, but hopefully I'll be able to post more in-depth reviews later.

Here goes:

Lost in A Good Book
Jasper Fforde
1 May 2010

Part of the Thursday Next Series, a fantastically original series starting with The Eyre Affair.

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
Terry Pratchett
2 May 2010

Hilarious and unexpected. A book worth reading many times.

So Yesterday
Scott Westerfield
3 May 2010

Cornelia Funke
3 May 2010

Last book of the Inkheart trilogy. This book starts a little slowly but when you get into the action, you are captivated by Funke's story and language.

The Red Pyramid
Rick Riordan
4 May 2010

This book was a bit to similar the the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Riordan for my taste, but overall very enjoyable.

The Well of Lost Plots
Jasper Fforde
6 May 2010

Next book in the Thursday Next series.

Princess of the Midnight Ball
Jessica Day George
12 May 2010

A retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I already wrote about how much I liked Jessica Day George in the Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow post. I personally like Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow better, but Princess of the Midnight Ball still has the beautiful writing style and incredible plot that defines George's books.

The Actor and the Housewife
Shannon Hale
17 May 2010

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Ian Fleming
24 May 2010

I got a box of books handed down to me and I remembered reading this book when I was really little. Written in a way that a younger person could enjoy, I found myself smiling as I read about the adventures of the Pott family and their magical car.

Princess of Glass
Jessica Day George
26 May 2010

A retelling of Cinderella with some of the same characters from Princess of the Midnight Ball. Sort of a sequel, but you do not need to read Princess of the Midnight Ball first.

Bulfinch's Mythology
29 May 2010

Interesting for people who like mythology (like me), but even I couldn't get more than halfway though it. It's a big thick book that is not meant for light reading.

James Patterson
2 June 2010

Newest book of the Maximum Ride series. I liked this series at first, but the last few books have been disappointing. I thought this book was pretty pathetic compared to the original Maximum Ride books.

The Princess and the Hound
Mette Ivie Harrison
2 June 2010

Something Rotten
Jasper Fforde
3 June 2010

Another Thursday Next book.

The Wide-Awake Princess
E.D. Baker
3 June 2010

Cute, but I think I've grown out of E.D. Baker. Tells the tale of Sleeping Beauty's sister, who goes to find the perfect prince for her sister.

First Among Sequels
Jasper Fforde
6 June 2010

Yet another Thursday Next book.

The Princess and the Bear
Mette Ivie Harrison
7 June 2010

Sequel to The Princess and the Hound.

The Princess and the Snowbird
Mette Ivie Harrison

14 June 2010

Sequel to The Princess and the Bear.

Okay, we're coming out of the princess phase here. I didn't really notice while I was reading them how many princess books I was reading in a row. They were all very different, even though they all had to do with princesses.

Shakespeare's Secret
Elise Broach
17 June 2010

The Big Over Easy
Jasper Fforde
17 June 2010

NOT a Thursday Next book, even though it is by the same author. A slower read (personally I liked the Thursday Next books better) but with the classic Jasper Fforde cleverness and originality. Detective Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crime Division investigates the murder of Humpty Dumpty and discovers a larger plot in the process.

Halls of Fame
John D'Agata
17 June 2010

Summer Reading. Still not done with this one. Gack!

A Countess Below Stairs
Eva Ibbottson
20 June 2010

This is the first YA book by Eva Ibbottson I had read. I read most of her books for younger kids, but I didn't know what to expect for this one. It set a high bar for her others.

The Supernaturalist
Eoin Colfer
24 June 2010

Here Lies Arthur
Philip Reeve
30 June 2010

I love Reeve's books. They are all so incredibly different from each other, and they are all amazing. This one was no exception.

The Cardturner
Louis Sachar
1 July 2010

The Wee Free Men
Terry Pratchett
4 July 2010


A Hat Full of Sky
Terry Pratchett
6 July 2010

Sequel to The Wee Free Men.

Terry Pratchett
6 July 2010

Sequel to A Hat Full of Sky. Can also be read by itself. My favorite of the three.

The Time Travelers
Linda Buckley-Archer
8 July 2010

The Amulet of Samarkand
Jonathan Stroud
11 July 2010

Book One of the Bartimaeus Trilogy. One of my favorite books.

The Golem's Eye
Jonathan Stroud
14 July 2010

Book Two of the Bartimaeus Trilogy.

George Orwell
14 July 2010

Ptolemy's Gate
Jonathan Stroud
16 July 2010

Book Three of the Bartimaeus Trilogy.

Gregor the Overlander
Suzanne Collins
20 July 2010

I knew Suzanne Collins from the Hunger Games Trilogy, so I decided the try the Underlander series. Written for younger readers than the Hunger Games, it didn't catch my interest nearly as much, but it was very well written, as all Collins books (that I've read) are.

The Amaranth Enchantment
Julie Berry
22 July 2010

A very nice, light read.

Fever Crumb
Philip Reeve
22 July 2010

Very different from the other Reeve books, but still exceptional. Prequel to the Hungry City series.

The Wish List
Eoin Colfer
23 July 2010

Not as great as the other Colfer books, but still nice for a quick read.

A Company of Swans
Eva Ibbottson
26 July 2010

Peter Pan in Scarlet
Geraldine McCaughrean
26 July 2010

A sequel to Peter Pan, with an interesting back-story to how it came about. I found myself caught up in the action, with a fantastic "OH" moment when all the parts of the story just came together. I love it when books do that.

The Woman in the Wall
Patrice Kindl
29 July 2010

The Atlantis Complex
Eoin Colfer
3 August 2010

Newest book of the Artemis Fowl series. I love the series, but this book was a little disappointing. I definitely recommend Artemis Fowl in general though.

Thirteenth Child
Patricia C. Wrede
4 August 2010

A fun book. I don't know if there's a sequel, but I want to read it.

A School for Sorcery
E. Rose Sabin
6 August 2010

Elise Broach
14 August 2010

While reading this book, I thought, "wouldn't it be great if... (deleted for Spoiler Content)" and it happened, but it was just different enough from what I had expected for me to appreciate the extra thought put in to make the unexpected twist actually unexpected. :)

Heroes of the Valley
Jonathan Stroud
16 August 2010

A classic hero's journey mixed with coming of age story with Stroud's wonderful writing style and sense of humor underlying it all. Very enjoyable.

The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm
Nancy Farmer
18 August 2010

Definitely different from anything else I've read, and a great story with memorable characters put masterfully together by Nancy Farmer.

And we're done! I'll try to get more complete reviews of these books up soon. Until then, happy reading!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Blue Shoe

By Roderick Townley
Start Date: 28 April 2010
End Date: 30 April 2010

I thought I was going to like The Blue Shoe as soon as I saw the subheading: "A Tale of Thievery, Villainy, Sorcery, and Shoes". I knew I was going to like it when I saw that it was written by Roderick Townley. It didn't disappoint me. From the first page, I was drawn into the tale of Hap Barlo, a shoemaker's apprentice in the village of Aplanap and the caretaker of a mysterious blue shoe. It was covered with precious blue stones, but its unusual size and shape made it impossible for it to fit anyone. And in addition, it was only one shoe, which made it even more useless. "Yet everyone who learned of this shoe was seized with the desire to own it." Hap is finally overcome by the temptation and is sent to Mount Xexnax, where the criminals were sent. I don't really want to give away the rest of the story, but it is really good. Also, dazzling illustrations by Mary GrandPre, best known for her illustrations in the Harry Potter books complement this subtly enchanting tale.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Book of Mordred

by Vivian Vande Velde
Start Date: 18 April 2010
End Date: 22 April 2010

I didn't really want to repeat authors so soon, but I really did not like this book at all, and I thought it deserved mention just to say how much I disliked it. (Also, I have just been reading a lot of Vivian Vande Velde recently.) The story itself is about Mordred, the illegitimate son of King Arthur. The book is split into three sections, each told by a different person. One of the things I didn't like about the book is how disjointed and separate each of the sections seemed. They all sort of came together in the end, but I still felt like there was something missing in the flow of the story. The idea behind the story is to take the character Mordred, who was cast in a very bad light in the traditional stories of King Arthur, and present a different side of his story. The reader never really trusts Mordred, but he is definitely considered a "good guy." It sort of bugs me in books when you want to trust the main character but you know you can't because all of a sudden he does something that makes him seem like a bad guy again. So even though I do really really really like Vivian Vande Velde's books, this one did not meet my expectations. It wasn't funny like the others, it wasn't engaging like the others, and most of all, I just didn't enjoy reading it. Please do not read this book.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

by Jessica Day George
Start Date: 13 April 2010
End Date: 13 April 2010

Well, after reading the Dragon Slippers series, (also by Jessica Day George, I'll post about them later) I wanted to see what else she had written. I really liked her style, although I felt that the Dragon Slippers books were written for a younger audience than what I was used to. But anyway, I bought Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, and was totally blown away. Expecting a lighter style more like the JDG books I had read before, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow caught me completely off guard. I found myself caught up in the characters and accidentally stayed up almost all night finishing it.

The story is about a girl with no name, called "pika" which means "girl" in the language of the North. Blessed with the ability to speak with animals, she is sought out by an isbjorn (polar bear) who requests that she come with him and stay in a place for 1 year. In return for her family's health and safety, she agrees. However, as she slowly unravels the secrets of the Ice Palace, she realizes that the isbjorn is not who he seems. I really don't want to give away what happens, so my summary sounds vague and unhelpful. But the reason I don't want to give anything away is that the plot itself, in addition to the beautiful writing style, is incredible and will keep you turning pages until to last word.

Heir Apparent

by Vivian Vande Velde
Start Date: 14 April 2010
End Date: 15 April 2010

This is the 5th time (I think) that I've read Heir Apparent, and it never gets old. I found myself laughing out loud on the 5th time just as much as the 1st. Basically, the story is about a teenage girl, Giannine Bellisaro, who gets stuck in a virtual reality game called Heir Apparent. While she is playing, the equipment gets damaged, and so the game gets stuck on a loop. The only way out is to win. However, when the equipment gets damaged, the safety systems also get damaged, so Giannine only has a certain amount of tries before it overheats and goes on "fatal overload." As strange as it sounds, this book is amazing, hilarious, and really well written. I definitely recommend it.

P.S. Okay, I know that I read this a few days ago and it's not 15 April anymore, but I'm going to mix old and new books, so a lot of these books will not be in order of when I read them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...