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! :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

by Brandon Mull

Well I have now reached that dreaded moment: after months of anticipation, I finally have my hands on Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, and I finished reading it! Now I have probably about a year to wait for the final installment in what has become one of my all-time favorite series. On the scale of adoration for a book this one is right up on the pinnacle with the likes of Harry Potter and the Twilight series. I love it that much.

Fablehaven is just littered with interesting characters and creatures. The characters are each unique and believable. The creatures found on the preserves are a perfect mixture of traditional legends and lore as well as new beings and traits unique to Mull's universe.

I am having a terrible time writing this blog without spoilers, but I really hate to give away the ending or twist to a book. Usually, (especially with books written for children) I can spot the plot "twist" a mile away. Sometimes, I have an inkling of what type of event might occur, but rarely am I caught by surprise. However, this book provided a plot twist near the end that I NEVER saw coming. I literally felt jolted by the shock of what I had just read. And as much as I want to type of just what happened and exactly how I feel about this surprise, it is just too fabulously shocking for me to even think about giving it away.

Besides that point Mull continues to be fabulous at character development. Seth continues to be a risk-taker, but no longer does he thoughtless jump into danger. Kendra has grown up as well, and while she's still the thoughtful, careful one, she finds bravery and courage to stand up to all she is faced with. Other characters are varied, some comedic, some protective, some evil, some enigmatic, all entertaining. You'll probably laugh out loud when Verl proclaims his love, read suspiciously as Vanessa claims her loyalty, and mourn alongside the group as devastating events occur.

Each book in this series has release approximately 11 months after the previous. So here's hoping that many more will discover this fabulous series (that truly deserves more hype than it has been given) and that February 2010 will bring the conclusion of this amazing story.

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Fair Godmother

by Janette Rallison

Fun little book - I hesitate to use the word "romp" because it is used far too often.

Just when Savannah thinks her life couldn't get any worse (her boyfriend dumps her to go out with her sister, she already spent $350 on a prom dress and now has no one to go with her, and a kind-of dorky guy embarrasses her by announcing to nearly the entire school that her swimsuit top came undone when she jumped off the diving board) she gets a fairy - actually just a "fair" - godmother. Chrysanthemum Everstar isn't actually a fairy godmother yet because she hasn't passed all her tests...and she hasn't done that well in godmother school. She's simply done "fair". So when Chrissy comes to grant poor Savannah three wishes she doesn't really take the time to get things right. Savannah doesn't think her wishes through before saying them out loud and before she knows it, she's stuck in the middle ages! It will take all of her brains and willpower to escape the mess she's thrown herself and her friends into, but maybe, just maybe, she might learn something about herself, and what she really wishes for along the way.

This book is a quick read, with believable and likable characters, and witty banter all around. It was just the right mix of fairy-tale romance, adventure, problem-solving, and humor to be added to my ever-growing list of favorites.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Other Book

by Philip Womack

Usually I can read a book while my roommate is in the room talking on the phone, with the tv on and my ipod in my ears and I won't notice any of it because I get so absorbed in what I'm reading. A really good book pulls you out of all your surroundings and says, "Hey! Pay attention to me!". Some of all my all-time beloved books fall into this category: Harry Potter, the Twilight series, Fablehaven, The Hunger Games etc. However, occasionally a wonderful book will require more concentration. It's not a bad thing, it just that some books need every ounce of thought focused of them because what they're about to say is so complex or the book in general is less flashy. Some of my favorite books were this way also, including: 100 Cupboards and Dandelion Fire, The Belgariad, Lord of the Rings, Megan Walen Turner's series, etc.

It is not a good sign though, when a book requires your complete concentration, and even then you don't quite know what's going on. Or when you set the book down for a few hours to, say, eat or talk to people, and when you pick it back up you can't for the life of you remember what you'd read an hour ago. This is the problem I had with this book. I tried! I gave it my full attention and concentration and it gave nothing back. I was so disappointed! Not only is it pretty, but the description both on the back and the inside flap were interesting. The first chapter was dark and intriguing and I was excited to read this relatively short novel. But then everything just fell apart.

First off, I think the idea is cool. It's about a boy, Edward - hey, and I didn't even have trouble not picturing sparkly vampires whilst reading! Go me. - who goes to this boarding school. One day he comes across this mysterious book - the "Other Book" - a dark tome that begins to take over his life. He learns that it is a source of power - one that is being sought out by people who would use it for evil. Edward must protect the book, and eventually deliver it to the rightful owner.

Sounds cool huh?

That's what I thought!

But the characters are confusing. Edward falls kind of flat. His personality isn't really explored, and all he does during the entire book is run from one place to another.

Another annoying aspect to me was that the other characters were extremely unreliable. Throughout the entire book you were never sure what their true colors were. Edward would put his trust in someone new, and time after time after time that person would turn around and betray him.

Also, the origins and nature of the Other Book were not fully explored. It was as if the author hadn't really decided what the Other Book was, so just put in some vague descriptions and decided that was enough. It was not enough for me.

In short, it was a cool idea for a story, but in the end the story and characters were not fully fleshed out or explored and the whole thing ended up feeling flat, truncated and confusing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Journal of Curious Letters

by James Dashner

One of the things that most drew me to this book was actually the acknowledgement at the beginning. The author writes how he always thought that was a stupid part of a book and why should he give a "flying patooty" what it says. The whole 2 pages of the acknowledgment was laugh-out-loud funny, and I thought that if the intro could be that funny that I had to see what the actual book was like.

The Journal of Curious Letters in the first entry in the series titled, The 13th Reality. There were a few funny moments throughout, but mostly the book took on a more serious/mysterious tone. The first part of the book is consumed by the mystery of the letters and solving of riddles. The second part focuses on a battle soon to take place.

Atticus Higginbottom is a 13-year-old science nerd who starts receiving mysterious letters in the mail. These letters ask him to perform a certain task on a certain date in a certain place. In order to figure out the correct task/date/place Atticus (Tick for short) must solve a series of riddles. I enjoyed reading and solving the riddles along with Tick. In fact, I read this book slower that I usually do because I had to stop at each riddle and try to figure it out before I got to the part where Tick figures it out!

After Tick solves the riddles and the fateful day arrives the story completely shifts. Tick learns that he lives in "Reality Prime" and that there are alternate realities that exist apart from his own. In some Realities the people are exceptionally advanced in technology. In other, the human race is abnormally tall. In yet another, humans have grown to be short and round. Now Tick and the other kids who solved the puzzles must work together to save the Realities from being destroyed.

The larger section of the book is devoted to the solving of the riddles. And while it takes nearly 6 months in book time for Tick and the others to solve the riddles, and the final battle takes place over a time of only 3 days, it still felt that too much of the book was dedicated to the riddles and not enough to the "action."

I also found the other kids to be terribly annoying! Tick becomes friend with Sofia and Paul while solving the riddles. Sofia is a sarcastic know-it-all, and Paul is a ridiculous surfer-dude. Paul was such a flat character and I found myself wondering why anyone liked Sofia. She needed to be taken down a few pegs in my opinion. I found myself thinking of Hermione, from the Harry Potter books, who is a bit of a know-it-all as well. The difference is that Hermione has a heart and acts likes she really cares about people when it counts. I don't think Sofia cared about anyone but herself.

On the plus side, in this book our main character actually turns to his dad for help. It's so common in kids' books to find the kids doing everything on their own, either because the adults wouldn't believe in the magic, or that they're just plain stupid. In this book Tick goes to his dad for help and his dad actually helps him. They trust each other, with was a nice element to the book as a whole.

Still not sure if I'm interested enough to read the next book, but there were definitely some good things about it. I didn't hate it, but there were some parts I wasn't crazy about.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Girl Who Could Fly

by Victoria Forester

I have to admit I'm not sure if I would have paid much attention to this book if I'd just seen it on the shelf. The cover and title just seem to hint at a rather simple story. Not sure why I thought that, but I did. However, this book was recommended by Stephenie Meyer (author of the Twilight series) on her website. The last book Ms. Meyer recommended on her site was The Hunger Games which I absolutely adored and for which I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel. Meyer described this book as "the oddest/sweetest mix of Little House oh the Prairie and X-Men." I found this to be a very true description of the book, although I also was reminded of Harry Potter and The Golden Compass at certain parts as well.

This is a particularly difficult book to describe without giving away the entire plot, but I will say that it is equal parts joy and sadness - filled with people who you're never sure if you should trust or if they are about to turn around and betray everyone. At only 328 pages I found myself wishing it was longer, so the individual characters could be more fleshed-out. I also felt like I had to remind myself frequently that the main characters were supposed to be young - the oldest being 11. Seemed to me liked they behaved in a way that was much older than that a lot of the time. I had a hard time not picturing them as 15- and 16-year olds. I actual think it would be interesting if the author did a sequel to this book when the charcters were that age.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dandelion Fire

by N. D. Wilson

After much waiting (okay, so it was only 5 days after the release date, but for book-freaks like myself that is a long time to wait to be in possession of a book you want!) I was able to purchase and start reading the second book in the 100 Cupboards series, which I started reading last month.

I just love the cover of these books! And I wish you could see the back of it in this picture! The raggant has got to be the cutest thing ever!

Dandelion Fire (which, by the way, has got to be one of the coolest book titles over!) is a delightful addition to the story begun in 100 Cupboards. Dandelion Fire is faster paced, and seems to me to have a stronger edge of magic to it. One of the things I loved so much about 100 Cupboards was the way the book resolved enough, but left you with this great teaser of an ending that left you with chills and the rampant desire to read more! Dandelion Fire, while filled with action and twists and turns lacked this little element. The ending felt very neatly resolved. However, upon closer reflection I began to mentally list things that were in fact, left unresolved (spoilers contained):

- What happens to Nimiane? Is she dead? Wounded? Will she come back (oh, she better! She's such a delightful villain!)

- The Willis house is not back in Kansas. It's still in the alternate world. Will they find a way to bring it back to Kansas?

- The cupboards! Even without the arrow, the cupboards are still functional (at least we know some of them are) - N.D. Wilson gives us a story with 100 cupboards and we have only learned the destination or purpose of like 6 of them! Surely there must be more stories contained in the other 94!

- What about Henry's family? We only barely met his mom, dad, and sisters. Still have yet to learn more about the brothers.

- What about Henry's adoptive parents? Won't they be looking for them? And isn't the town of Henry going to wonder what happened to the family and the house?

- Now that Magdalene has the arrow back, can she use it to restore FitzFaeren?

- Oh yes, and what about the couple in Byzanthamum (can't remember their names right this second) who saved Henry? Will we hear more from them?

So yes, there is much yet to be explored! On N.D. Wilson's site I see a book listed with the title, "Chestnut King" - another brilliant title I must say - I'm hoping that this will be the next book in the series, and not the last either!

Dandelions are magic!