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.


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