Why Are There All These Blank Spaces?

You may notice that in some of my posts there are blank spaces in the reviews. These are spoilers that I've written so I can remember important details of the books when I want to read the sequel. I've made the text a beige color to blend in with the background so you won't accidentally see something you don't want to. If you want to read it, just highlight the section to make the text appear - although you should really just read the book yourself! :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008


by Neal Shusterman

I found this book at a used book store in California over Thanksgiving vacation. I've read a number of summaries of Neal Shusterman's books and I've been wanting to read something of his for a while. So when I came across a slightly-battered copy of Downsiders, I decided it would be my first Shusterman.

The book was interesting, and while it reminded me of other novels I've read, it was unique enough that the similarities were fun to ponder instead of annoying. The Downsiders was about two kids - Talon and Lindsay who come from very different worlds. Talon is a Downsider - that is, he lives beneath the streets and subways of New York City in a secret underground civilization. One day, he meets Lindsay, a girl from the "Topside". The two form a friendship that is against the rules of the Downside, and threatens to destroy their civilization - possibly forever.

It was almost like reading a mash-up of Tunnels (by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams) and The City of Ember (by Jeanne DuPrau), although it is older than both of these books - I just happened to read them first.

Hmmm....let's see how it would rate on Dani's rating system!

1st star (butt-kicking) - alas, not much butt-kicking...more scheming and plotting and such...perhaps it can have half a star for that +.5

2nd star (romantic touch) - ah yes, romantic touch it does have that +1

3rd star (some wacky fantasy) - I think an underground society qualifies +1

4th star (love triangle) - kinda, yes, there is something of the sort - I'll give it a star for that +1

5th star -(delectable male co-protagonist) - I don't think I'd use the word "delectable" but he was charming so another half star for this one! +.5

6th star - (scene that is truly tear-jerking) - the end was kinda bittersweet, but that does not earn it a star in my opinion! +0

7th star (expertise with a bow and arrow) - the most difficult 7th star, unfortunately, this book does not earn +0

So we're up to 4 stars! And I think I'm going to tack on an extra .5 for the funny socks, feather hat, chain mail made of pop can tabs, and watches worn on ankles! Because that's just funny!

So 4.5 stars - funny, but it seems that Dani's rating system does give a fairly good rating! I should not have mocked it! In short, this book was good, entertaining, not the awesomest thing I've ever read, but I liked it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Nixie's Song

by Toni DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Earlier this year I read the Spiderwick Chronicles series, which is made up of 5 cute little hardback books with shiny bright covers. And yes, while it is totally true you can't judge a book by its cover, I still do just covers against other covers! Some books that I love have really lame covers, and some books that I've hated have had pretty covers. They don't always give an indication of how the book will be, but they are fun to look at nonetheless.

Anyways, this book is the start to a new series, entitled, "Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles". It basically is about some kids who read the original Spiderwick Chronicles books and go out looking for fairies and such and find them and then get into some trouble of their own. And like the original Spiderwick Chronicles, each book reads more like a long chapter. The end of this book just leaves you hanging right in the middle of the story so you really have to read the whole series to get the whole story. This series is supposed to be three parts, which I suppose is good - it was an okay start, but in my opinion, not as fun as the original series.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

by J. K. Rowling

So I finally got to read J.K. Rowling's new book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I don't have much to say about it really. It was a fun little tome, with cool pictures and commentary by Dumbledore. That Dumbledore has some funny things to say too.

I think the Tale of the Three Brothers was my favorite. I find that I've forgotten many details from the Harry Potter books though! I'm going to have to re-read those sometime soon...preferably before the next movie.

It was fun little book, but not nearly as satisfying as a full-length novel. I'm still holding out hope that someday J.K. Rowling will treat us to a whole new world and a whole new story!

The King of Attolia

by Megan Whalen Turner

After finishing the previous book of this series, The Queen of Attolia, I just HAD to start the next one! Breaking all bans on book-buying before Christmas established by friend and fellow book lover, Dani - I went to the store and bought it anyway, incurring the wrath of said rule-maker. Oops.

But scoldings aside, it was well worth it!

The King of Attolia was equal parts confusion, frustration (at being confused), delight, gooeyness, and awe! Yes, gooeyness...all great books need a little gooeyness! Definition of gooeyness: charming little romantic sequences that make your brain feel the slightest bit "gooey" and which cause you to want to read all the more faster with the hope that the gooey feeling will return shortly. :)

I though I was going to be upset at the beginning of the book when a new character appears. And while Costis appears in nearly every scene, the book is not told entirely from his point of view. And happily, his story did not take us away from the story of Gen and Atollia. I liked hearing how Costis's opinion of his new ruler gradually changed from outright hatred, to grudging respect, to a geniune approval.

And once again, at the end of the book I was eager for the next installment! However, there is no such animal....at least not yet! I do hope that Turner will continue the series. She did seem to leave herself open for another by not revealing the final outcome with Sophos. I do hope though, that if there is another book, it will not be all about Sophos, because half of the charm of the series is the cunning antics of Gen and Attolia! More please Ms. Turner!

Update: The forth part to this series, A Conspiracy of Kings is set to drop March 10th, 2010!

The Queen of Attolia

by Megan Whalen Turner

This book was, without question, maddening! (In that oh, so fabulous way that makes you want to throw it across the room and then read all night until you reach the end sort of way!)

Gen! I will never figure the guy out! Just when I think what's going on - I so don't! Twists and turns and it was all just lovely, lovely, lovely!!

**Sort of spoilerish** First off, many kudos to Megan Whalen Turner for creating a character, making us HATE her, and then... a mere 200 or so pages later, making us love her completly! How she does this, I still do not know! Ohhhh I hated the Queen of Attolia so much. First, for just being a meany...and for what she does to Gen, and then for fraternizing with the sleazy Mede character. But by the end I though she was the coolest, sneakiest, cleaverest, (are these even words?) most sympathetic character of the book. You feel bad for her. And you really WANT her to be happy and loved.

And Gen. I still don't get him. But I don't care, he's great and unpredictable, and FUNNY!

Okay, spoilers for sure now - sometimes I try to avoid them, but well, I'm not going to anymore. So the part I most loved what the part near the end when Attolia and Eddis agree that the gods betrated Gen. And then Gen goes along to a room and makes an alter and questions the gods as to why they did this to him. And they tell him not to question why and he just yells that he demands to know, and he has a right to know. And then one of the goddesses comes to him and says basically, "What would you give to have your hand back?" She says she can't do it, but if she could, would he give up Attolia, or have her lost to the Mede? And Gen is forced to say that no, he wouldn't. Seriously, I got chills at this part. I just thought it was really powerful to think about how this completly horrible thing happened to Gen, but in the end, it is this horrible thing that eventually plays a part in him gaining something even better. And the fact that this finds its way into a kids book just makes me even more impressed.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Thief

by Megan Whalen Turner

I've finally read The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner! Dani has been recommending this book to me for quite a long time, and I have kept forgetting about it. This week though, I have been stuck inside because of ice and snow and I needed a new book to read. After debating for a while book I would pick, I noticed my copy of The Thief sitting on the shelf just waiting to be read. And so I finally picked it up.

I had a little bit of a hard time with the character named Pol. You see, in The Thief, Pol is a guy, but I've also read a series of books where one of the main characters - a female - is named Polgara, and goes by the nickname Pol. So in The Thief I was constantly having to remind myself that this was NOT Aunt Pol! But that's my problem, not the book's.

I found the story of The Thief to be engrossing, and surprising. I have to admit, that I never even suspected Gen's true identity, nor the connections between other character that were revealed at the end. About 2/3rds of the way through the book I was actually starting to wonder where the story was going. Gen surprised everyone in the story as well as me! I thought it was interesting to have the story from his point of view most of the time, but not to reveal all of what he's thinking or doing to the reader. The reader is then left to try to figure out what's going on on their own along with the other characters - something I was terrible at, but I enjoyed, nonetheless!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


by Angie Sage

I had really high hopes for this book when I picked it up. I'd seen it in the book store many times, and had been wanting to read it for a while. It's been described as combining the magic of Harry Potter with the cunning characters of Artemis Fowl. I love both of these series and was hoping that this book truely would have a slight flavor of both.

However, I really didn't like it! It started out kind of interesting - with the seventh son of a seventh son pronounced dead soon after birth (but it's always pretty obvious that he's not really dead, but kidnapped) and his parents taken in a baby girl found in the woods. The book then zips forward ten years and we find out who the girl child really is - the princess. Characters are popping in and out (still have no idea what most of the sons' names are), and before you know it they are all on the run to escape the Hunter and the evil wizard. The Hunter is supposed to be this big scary guy with a silver bullet that's going to hunt down the princess until he kills her. But somehow the gang manages to out run him (in a slower boat), and deceive them (with a spell), and reach the fens where they are all of a sudden safe?? The Hunter just goes back in defeat! And then the book comes to a screeching halt. I was left for 100+ pages wondering what the point was now. There was no immenent threat and the characters just seemed to be killing time. I was bored of the book by this point and almost quit reading it. But I have a really hard time stopping a book without finishing it. So I pressed on. It actually did get a little better. But the threats to the kids' safety seemed to come out of nowhere, and the keys to their salvation were even more out of the blue! I realize this is a kids book, but really - couldn't the author think of something a little more inventive than a magical boat appearing out of nowhere in an underground temple, oh, and the boat just happens to be a dragon too! Don't even get me started on the magic ring Boy 412 finds in a dark tunnel! I was just waiting for Golem to come around the corner!

The end of the book redeemed it a little. There was an interesting twist, and we finally found out what happened to Septimus. Still, I'm not sure if it redeemed it enough for me to bother reading the rest of this series.

Breaking Dawn

by Stephenie Meyer

I wrote this review after I read Breaking Dawn for the first time, but my thoughts are pretty much the same after my second reading, so I'm just going to paste it in!

So many people hated this book, but I have to admit - I adored it! Sure it may not be "realistic" but there's a reason the genre is called fantasy. I've read lots of books where people die. And yes, I can understand why an author would choose to do this - to add realism, to point out that victory is not without sacrifice, etc. But it was kinda nice to read a book - a series none the less - where you get to the end and all the characters you love are still kicking! After all, we all know real life can suck enough - I prefer it if the books I read for pleasure didn't have downers for an ending. Bella has to make a lot of difficult choices in the previous books and in Breaking Dawn we see the consequences for these choices. We were all wondering what would happen to Jacob, how Charlie would react to Bella's mysterious disappearance, what Bella would be like as a vampire, if Edward could avoid killing her on their honeymoon, if the Volturi would come for her, etc. I was hoping that Bella would not be like all the other newborn vampires. All along, Stephenie Meyer has made it pretty clear in her books that Bella was not like everyone else - from the very onset when Bella is the only person whose thoughts were hidden from Edward. I was hoping that she would end up not being a crazed newborn like they all assumed she would be, so I was thrilled that that was the way SM wrote it. Not only does Bella come into her new life with her wits about her, but she develops into this really strong character who not only takes charge, but totally saves the day! Yes, the name Renesmee struck me as totally weird when I first read it, but after a while I got used to it. The worst thing about Renesmee was that she was so hard to picture in my head! A baby that looks like a baby but doesn't act like one....it'll be interesting what they do with that if they ever try to make this book into a movie. And then there's Jacob and Charlie. After thinking that surely these two would be cut out of Bella's life, SM finds a way to bring them back in. I was shocked when I read the part where Jacob imprints on Renesmee - I remember running upstairs to where my friend Dani was (she was about 100 pages ahead of me) and yelling out something like "He imprints on the BABY?!?!" - but I wasn't really grossed out by this - SM had gone to some lengths to explain in Eclipse that it wasn't a romantic kind of love when the girl was so young, just a need to see that she is safe and happy. And I was doubly relieved that Charlie could still see Bella, and that he was finally able to know just enough so he could know his granddaughter. So yes, Breaking Dawn does wrap everything up at the end in a nice pretty bow, but I liked it that way. Bella gets everything she wanted, and everything she thought she couldn't have anymore. Lots of readers have said that this makes it too fake or cheapens it, but if we were Bella, wouldn't that be exactly how we'd want things to turn out? Real life isn't always so peachy - but books can be, so I'm thankful to Stephenie Meyer for giving us a better happy ending then I thought was possible. I enjoyed it.


by Stephenie Meyer

Eclipse, Eclipse, what to say about Eclipse?

So many great things happen in Eclipse - Bella's and Edward's compromise, Victoria's final apperance, Bella finally thinks about what it will mean if she becomes a vampire, we hear the stories of Rosalie and Jasper, Edward has a jealous moment but is smart enough to stop telling Bella what to do, the werewolves and vampires work together, etc.

Favorite parts: Edward's reaction when Bella agrees to marry him, when Edward talks to Jacob in the tent, and anything with Alice!

First time I read thisI was dying to get my hands on Breaking Dawn and I only had to wait a few months. Second time, I jumped right from it into Breaking Dawn. I believe both times I read it in about 24 hours. Which is quite something when you consider it's 600+ pages. Completely absorbing, every time! Stephenie Meyer knows how to suck you in!

New Moon

by Stephenie Meyer

Ack, I am seven books behind on this blog!

So after re-reading Twilight, I immediately started my second time through New Moon. Now while I still believe that there is just something magical about the first time you read a book that can only be experience that one time - the suspense, the wondering, the tension as you hope that the author you've put your trust in will finish their story in the way you hope - some books are better even better the second time. New Moon is one of those. The first time I read New Moon I spent most of the book wondering when in the world Edward was coming back! I remember stopping and flipping page after page looking for Edward's name, and despairing at how far I had to flip to find it! The pages in between I read as fast as I could.

This time, I was much more calm. I knew what was going to happen, and when Edward was going to come back (and even, the eventual end to the whole saga) so I was able to chill out. I enjoyed Jacob's part of the story more, as well as pay closer attention to the specifics of the werewolf pack that I'd missed the first time.

I was also careful to read the Italy parts more carefully this time around. I had forgotten the names, positions and talents of many of the Volturi - which was frustrating while reading Breaking Dawn the first time and not remembering them!

Still my least favorite of the Twilight series, but considerably better the second time. Now, onto Eclipse!