Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Broken Wrist

A hello to past readers and a welcome to the new!  I will not be posting for a little bit because I broke my wrist and it is BEYOND HARD to type.  Go out there and find a book yourselves you bookworms!  Oh!  And may the odds be ever in your favor.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Publisher –  Disney – Hyperion Books
Release Date – June 28, 2005
Pages –  375
Series – Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Genre – Fantasy/Mythology
Summary –
12 year old Percy is not normal, but he sure wishes he was He wants to lead a life as a normal kid in a normal family.  However, Percy is far from average.  He is unlike many kids for one almost normal reason.  Kind of an oxy-moron, huh? He doesn’t have a dad.   As the story goes on you, the reader, learns that the reason he doesn’t have a dad is not because he left, as Percy has always believed, but he happens to be a god.  Percy’s dad is the god, Poseidon.  Poseidon has a life of his own with a god wife and two god children.  Percy is what you could call an unloved child.  His mom loves him, sure, but his dad rarely even visits.  Percy, after learning that his dad is a god is sent to a camp where he and other half-bloods can be safe.  This is where Percy learns that his dad is Poseidon.  Soon after arriving at the camp Percy learns that Zeus’ master bolt, the one that allows him to create lightning, has been stolen and the theft was blamed on Poseidon.  Percy sets out on a journey with his two friends, Grover and Annabeth, to find the lighting bolt and in doing so clear his dad’s name and stop a godly war.  On his journey Percy encounters evil monsters, tricky gods, and a false friendship.
Character Development –
While in the course of reading this book I felt myself hoping, praying for, and thinking about these characters.  Okay, not literally, but I did care immensely about every person.   I wanted Percy to make it through the whole adventure. I related to Annabeth and Grover never failed to make me laugh.    When I heard that there was going to be a failed friendship in the book I kept wondering who it was going to be and at the same time hoped it was false information because I cared about everybody so much.  I loved these characters and that is not something I can normally say. 
Language usage –
The language in this book was simple to say the least.  I didn’t find myself learning new words, ever.  Riordan was trying to make his book understandable to younger kids, but I think that the story would have benefited from some variety in word choice.    The simplicity of the words does make the book easier to follow, but unlike in Divergent (see Divergent review) I found myself longing for more.  I wanted more of a description, more characters developed.  The words he used were fine, but they could have been better.

Idea –
The concept was fantastic!  I have always enjoyed Greek mythology, but I loved it even more when Riordan related it to modern life.  I admired the idea of having god-like powers, but not in full strength.  I have one lasting impression from this book - I want to be a demigod!
Overall –
It couldn’t have gotten much better. Between the awesome characters and crazy twists I can’t imagine a better story.  However, the vocabulary left much to be desired and I would have liked more closure. I know, it’s part of a series and I gripe when one individual book doesn’t have a satisfying ending.  Is that just me?  Overall it is one I would recommend.
What I thought –
I really enjoyed this book.  The characters were friends and the plot was in depth.  I think that the author could have made the book better by using more of a diverse vocabulary.  One thing that I absolutely loved about this book was the idea behind it, I am generally into Greek mythology, though.

Difficulty –
This book, partly due to its sub-par vocabulary, was a fairly easy read.  I would say that anybody in or above 3rd grade would be able to read it. It may even be a bit easy if you are in high school, but, hey, it can be one of those books that you hide behind another and save it for your own guilty pleasure. Or, you know, go for it and prop the book up for all to see and give a little smirk to anyone who questions you!

Length –
My copy has 384 pages.  I would say that it is a pretty average length.  Not necessarily the book to go to when you need your book count to go up fast, but also not one to take on a week vacation and expect it to take up all your time. It is more a book for when you don’t care about the time it will take you.

Who should read it –
I kind of already mentioned this in difficulty, but really anyone over 3rd grade should understand it while, I believe everyone, no matter gender, will enjoy it. 
If you liked this you might also like –

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Friday, December 28, 2012

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I read the Harry Potter series a while back.  Because of this I am going to do a review of all 7 books at the same time so...

Publisher – Scholastic Press
Release Date – 1st: September 1999
Pages – 3,407 (keep in mind that this is all 7 books)
Series – Harrry Potter
Genre – Fantasy
Summary –
We first meet Harry as a baby flying from the sky on a magical motorcycle with a man “twice as tall as a normal man and nearly five times as wide.” We later get to know this man as Hagrid.  Hagrid has snatched Harry up from a destroyed house and dead parents after Harry survived something no other human or animal has ever survived.  Avada Kadavra is a spell meant to kill, but when a very evil wizard uses it against Harry somehow Harry survives with only a ligting bolt shaped scar to prove the encounter.  Hagrid takes Harry to Harry’s aunt and uncle’s house.  His aunt and uncle are not wizards like Harry and his parents and they despise the idea of having one live with them.  While they agree to take Harry in they don’t tell him of his powers or reason for his scar – ever.  Harry lives in a closet under the stairs for the first eleven years of his life until he gets a letter.  Harry is invited to study at a magical school called Hogwarts.  While atending Hogwarts Harry learns about spells and flying, which he is extrodinarily good at, along with his own past and that of his family.  Harry forms strong friendships with Hermoine Granger and Ron Weasly and fights many horrid monsters.  In this series Harry discovers his purpose.  In doing all this Harry learns how to defeat “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” or Voldemort, as only Harry and Dumbledore, the headmaster, call the one who branded Harry with his famous scar. 

Character Development–
You know that moment when you realize you can tell which of your family members is coming down the stairs just by the sound of their footsteps. Yeah, I can do that with the Harry Potter characters.  I know the characters better than I know some of my friends, and while I am a pretty thorough reader that is not the reason why I know so much.  Rowling does a fantastic job of developing her characters.  From her descriptions of their physical apperance to highlighting her characters odd personalities I can’t imagine better descriptions.  Part of the reason her characters are so well developed is that their personalitities allow for that.  She has your generic roles, but she makes them better.  For example Snape is just your average mean teacher right?  Wrong.  You never know who Snape is.  Rowling paints Snape as confused about his loyalties, but in the end you find out that Snape always knew his place.  But I’m not going to give that away, bwahahaha.  Snape has his backstory and he is unlike anyone else I have ever read about.  The same is true for every one of Rowling’s characters from Petunia Dursley to Fred Weasley.  My only crtisism of the characters is that is you were to only read the first book (who does that??) the character development could leave something to be desired.  This is one of those series that was always meant to be a series, so if you just read the first book it isn’t going to cut it.  
Language usage
Do I even have to talk about this?  She makes up words that are now known around the world!  What more can you ask for?  Wait, hold on, something is coming in.  Okay, a little birdy just informed me that she gives us more!  She uses very educated real words as well.  Below is a list of made up words that she uses.
Animagi – A person that can turn into an animal
Auror – Dark wizard catcher
Axminister – A magic carpet that holds 12 people
Azkaban – The wizard prison that is almost impossible to get out of
Basilisk – A deadly serpent with very destructive fangs
Beater - A Quidditch player who hits the bludgers toward the other team
Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans - Jelly beans that come in every flavor possible.
Bludger - A black Quidditch ball that flies around trying to knock the players off
their broomsticks.
Boggart - A creature that turns into what you fear most.
Broomstick - A broom that wizards and witches fly on. It is used for Quidditch.
Bubotuber – Bubotuber pus can cause large boils if it touches skin
Butter Beer - A fizzy and warm drink like hot chocolate.
Chamber of Secrets - The place in Hogwarts where the Basilisk lives.
Chaser - A Quidditch player who tosses the Quaffle back and forth with the other
Chaser as they try to score in the opposing teams goals.
Chocolate Frogs - Chocolate frog shaped candies that move as if they were real.
Dark Mark - A giant green skull composed of emerald stars with a snake sticking out
from its mouth.
Degnoming - The throwing of gnomes out of your garden.
Deletrius - The spell that diminishes Prior Incantato.
Dementor - Hooded figures who suck the happiness and soul out of people.
Diagon Alley - The alley that is behind the leaky cauldron. You buy your Hogwarts
supplies there.
Enervate - A spell that destroys the stun effect on anything.
Expelliarmus - A spell that disarms your opponent.
Eyelops Owl Emporium - Where wizards and witches buy their school owls.
Firebolt - The best broomstick in the world.
Floo powder - Magic dust that will take you to wherever you want to go
Forbidden forest - A forest in Hogwarts where students are not allowed unless given
instruction from a teacher.
Galleon - Wizard money
Golden Snitch - The gold Quidditch ball that is worth 150 points. The snitch, when
caught ends the game. The seekers, like Harry, try to get the snitch.
Grindylow - A sharp horned and silky green water creature.
Gringotts - The wizard bank, which is run by Goblins.
Gryffindor - It is one of the four houses in Hogwarts and symbolized by a lion.  Harry
is in this house
Hippogriff - A half-eagle and half-horse animal that bites people who make fun of it.
Hogsmeade – A small shopping area near Hogwarts that you can go to when you are
a third year and up.
Hogwarts - The best wizarding school in the world and the one Harry attends. 
Located outside of London
Hogwarts Express - The train to Hogwarts. You have to run between platforms 9 and
10 to get to it
Honeydukes - A candy shop in Hogsmeade.
Howler - A letter that is enchanted to yell when opened.
Hufflepuff - One of the four houses in Hogwarts symbolized by the badger.
Impervius - A spell that repels water.
Incendio - A fixing spell.
Jelly-legs – A spell that makes the person that it hits have wobbly legs.
Keeper - A Quidditch player who mans the goal for their team.
Knuts- A wizard coin
Kwikspell - A course to make you a better wizard
Leaky Cauldron - The shop that is in front of Diagon Alley.
Leg-Locker Curse - Locks the legs together until the counter curse is performed.
Lumos - The spell to light the tip of a wand.
Mandrake - A plant that makes a noise, which is fatal to humans.
Ministry of Magic – The head of all wizards
Morsmordre - A spell to make the Dark Mark appear.
Mudblood – A wizard with muggle parents
Muggle - Non-magic people
Nagini - A twelve-foot long snake that is Voldemort’s pet.
Nox - A spell to turn off the light coming from the tip of a wand.
Obliviate - A charm that updates your memory.
Olivanders – A wand store in Diagon Alley.
Parseltounge - The language of snakes. Some wizards can speak and understand it.
Platform 9 and ¾ - The platform where the Hogwarts Express boards
Prefect – Well-behaved students who are given a position in the ranks of the
Hogwarts rules system.
Prior Incantato - A spell that shows the last spell done with that wand.
Priori Incantatem- When two wands sharing a core from the same creature try to
battle but link with a golden line instead.
Polyjuice Potion – A potion that turns you into someone else for a limited amount of
Quaffle - A Quidditch ball that is red. The chasers toss it around. If this ball is thrown
into the opposing teams goal the scoring team receives ten points.
Quidditch – A wizard sport that is played worldwide. The players fly around on
broomsticks and try to square using either the quaffle of the snitch
Quietus – A spell that makes your voice quieter.
Ravenclaw - One of the four Hogwarts houses symbolized by an eagle
Remembrall - A ball that lights up when you forget something that you need to do.
Reparo - A spell that fixes something broken.
Seeker - A Quidditch player who tries to catch the snitch.
Sickle - Wizard money
Slytherin - One of the four houses symbolized by a serpent
Sonorus - A spell to make your voice louder
Sorcerer's Stone – A stone that produces the elixir of life and alchemy
Squib - A wizard who isn't very good at magic
Ton-Tongue Toffee - Toffee invented by Fred and George that makes your tongue
Transfiguration - The transforming of one object into another.
Triwizard Tournament - A competition between the three major wizard schools in
Britain, Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. One person from each school
competes in magical contests for a prize of 1,000 Galleons.
Veela - Beautiful creatures who turn into ferocious birds when angry.
Whomping Willow - A tree that will snatch up anyone or anything that comes near
Yew - A thirteen-inch wand.
For a complete list of spells go to http://www.pojo.com/harrypotter/spelist.shtml
A magical school that serves magical students.  A boy that goes to that school much to the dissapointment of his aunt and uncle even though it is his dead parent’s alma mater.  That same boy trying to defeat the world’s darkest and possibly most powerful wizard.  Who comes up with this stuff?  J.K. Rowling, apparently.  Harry Potter is one of the craziest, best, and most original stories I have ever read. I’m not one for very much fantasy, but Harry Potter got me.  It was so out-of-this-world that it almost seemed science fiction at time.  I loved the different characters and fun spells.  I don’t think there is one person (under the age of eleven) who was not disappointed when their Hogwarts letter didn’t come.  The story is fun, relatable and overall great.  I envy Rowling for being able to come up with such great ideas! Well, I envy her for that and the gobs of money she makes.  Harry Potter is such a great book with a great idea to boot.
Overall –
Overall, it’s Harry Potter.  I mean that really speaks for it self.  Harry Potter is the most succesful film franchise EVER.  It has made billions.  It is nearly impossible to find somebody over the age of 10 in America who hasn’t read or at least seen Harry Potter.  Harry and his friends are both loveable and unique.  The story is, in many people’s opinion, the bet book ever.  Harry Potter is a must-read for anyone anywhere. 
What I thought –
I love Harry Potter.  It is one of my favorite books.  I feel like I am the most like Hermoine and that makes the book more fun for me.  If I could re-read Harry Potter all the time, I would.  One of my favorite parts of the series is the epilogue.  Rowling wraps up the series so perfectly.  I know that if you haven’t started them yet that is a long way ahead, but it’s something to motivate you (if you need motivation, which I doubt.)

Difficulty –
I read this series when I was in 2nd grade.  I think that as long as you are in 3rd grade you should be good.  Even some 1st and 2nd graders may be able to read it. It is a pretty simple read and as long as you have a dictionary handy it’ll be fine.

Length –
The length depends on the book.  The first and second books are in the 200’s.  The 3rd is in the 300’s.  The 4th, 6th, and 7th are in the 600’s and the longest, the 5th is 766 pages long.  Some of these books may seem like they would take a long tome to read, but you will whip through them before you can say, “Oh my gosh! Harry Potter is amazing!”

Who should read it –
Everyone.  That is all.

If you liked this you might also like –

The Lightning Theif
By Rick Riordan
                    The Chronicles of Narnia
                 by C.S. Lewis
Tales of Beedle the Bard
by J.K. Rowling

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Season by Sarah MacLean

Publisher – Orchard Books
Release Date – December 2009
Pages – 352 pages
Series – None – yet ; )
Genre -  Historical Fiction
Summary -
Alex is not your average lady, and when I say lady I don’t mean in a “hey lady” sense, rather I mean her mom is the duchess of Worthington.  Lady Alexandra lives in London in the 1800s.  Alex is a smart, beautiful young woman entering her first season.  The season is a time of social events and being proper, but Alex enjoys surprising her potential suitors with actual intelligence!  She, just like many other girls of the time, has a mother driven to find her a man suitable for marriage.  Alex, however, does not like the prospect of living with a dull, yet high ranking, man for the rest her life.  She spends her days discussing politics with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, and dreaming up ways to avoid the social events of the season.  Not long after her first ball begins Alex takes note of a particularly handsome young man who, to her horror, turns out to be her close friend, the Earl of Blackmoor.  Blackmoor is one of the youngest earls for his father recently died by supposed horse accident.  In avoiding marriage Alex decides to investigate the former Earl of Blackmoor’s death and in doing so is brought closer to marriage with her close friend and new interest, the current Earl of Blackmoor! 

Character development-
This book does a great job of letting you get to know their characters!  It’s as if I’ve known these people since I was an itty bitty tot! I know Alex as the strong-willed, witty person that she is.  After reading the first chapter I had figured out that Alex was not the type of girl to take no for an answer and that she truly did not care for prestigious titles and social gatherings.  I am the type of person who likes to judge things, hence the ratings, and I judge how well I know a character based on whether I can describe them in 1 word.  I sure can - 
Alex – strong-willed
Duke of Worthington (Alex’s dad) – capable
Duchess of Worthington (Alex’s mom) – fretful
Vivi (Alex’s friend)– romantic
Ella (Alex’s friend) – writer
Blackmoor (Alex’s friend and interest) - mysterious
Penelope (Alex’s polar opposite and enemy) – pretentious
MacLean develops her characters at the beginning of the novel and throughout the story!  As you devour this gossip filled book you learn more about every character before the novel even started!  I LOVE that kinda mysterious, “You know me, now you don’t, but this time you know the whole me, or do you?” thing.
Language usage –
MacLean does a fantastic job of making this book seem as though it belongs in the 1800s.  She uses old English whenever possible.  I was constantly astonished at the words I didn’t understand.   The rich vocabulary made me feel like a genius.  I would go around and talk as if I was in the book.  “I suppose I should attend school this morning seeing as it is in my best interest, correct?” The hole in her word web is her variance.  I swear if I read the phrase “The _______ in question” one more time I will scream!  The author constantly reuses phrases in trying to sound old fashioned and I just… don’t even.. can’t…  OH MY GOD!  I am pretty sure I almost threw the book across the room more than once because of this! As an added frustration she did this with more than one phrase.  This one may just be me, but good lord it drove me crazy! 
Idea –
When I picked this book up of the library shelf I was fascinated by the idea.  It is kind of a historical fiction mystery.  The back of the book alone made me feel as though I was in some sort of old feminine James Bond movie.  MacLean incorporates the idea of a murder into a story of dances and social protocol, what???  This book takes many twists and turns, and while sometimes there is a little too much foreshadowing many times there is just enough to keep you guessing. I did not entirely like the idea of this book.  Throughout the book Alex starts to fall for Blackmoor, but I would have preferred that she stayed true to her opposition to marriage.  Personally I have nothing against marriage, but I feel as though she and the book could have been stronger if it was a story of a girl who wasn’t going to give in for anything.  The author, who I can tell just by reading the book is married, obviously has strong opinions on the matter and voices them through her story.  Alex is seventeen!  She would be a much better character had she been faithful to her hate.  I would have liked to see her cause a few heartbreaks and stun even more people with her intelligence.  Overall, though, the idea was unique and interesting.
Overall –
The book, while educational, was also fascinating.  Personally, I can’t think of a better way to learn.  Improvements could have been made, but they were pretty minor.  The book was like a delicious vanilla cake with carrot frosting.  This book maybe could have earned that extra star had it made its frosting more exciting!  The Season is suspenseful, unique, and simply entertaining.  This book was fun to read, definitely better than homework, and it has all the ear markings of a book to be remembered.
What I thought
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although, it is a kind of Jane Austen knock-off.  Part of me just wanted to turn pop in the 6 hour version of Pride and Prejiduice and kick this book to the curb.  The book would have been less like Jane Austen’s had it not used so much romance and, really, the romance didn’t add to the story.  I loved the mystery and how Alex formed her own opinions.  She could be a true leader in the modern world.   It was nice to read a book with a real happy ending.  I haven’t read one of those good ol’ everything goes the heroine’s way in a while.   This book was not average, which is why I liked it.

Difficulty –
This book used advanced language in some places, but I believe that the average 7th grader could understand.  Following the book and its patterns would also be left up to the mind of anyone 7th grade or higher.  The book could be challenging depending on how well you read.

Length  -
My copy is 336 pages long.  It is in a small font and is single spaced.  It took me 4 days to read it, so not too long.  I dare you to beat me!

Who should read it  -
This book, while it is good, is not one I would recommend to boys.  If they could get past the romance, dress fittings, and obvious feminine roots of the story they would love it too, but as it is I recommend this book to girls of any age.  It isn’t geared towards any age in particular.  It’s just a fun book!
If you liked this you might like -

NIne Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
By Sarah MacLean
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen 

Buy these at Amazon.com or any of the other links at the bottom of the page!

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Just a little foreword....
Divergent is, in my opinion the best book ever, so if I gush, sorry in advance, now here is what I think -

Publisher – HarperCollins
Release Date – May 3rd, 2011
Pages – 487
Series – The Divergent Series
Genre – dystopian, science fiction
Summary –
The book, Divergent, takes places in a dystopian society full of adventure, mysteries, and a little of that much adored romance.  This future society has designed five different factions in which its citizens live; each one designated by a certain quality:  selflessness (Abnegation), truth (Candor), intelligence (Erudite), bravery (Dauntless), and peace (Amity).  The book opens with, “There is one mirror in my house.”  Seeing as Tris was born into the Abnegation community this perfectly depicts how she views herself.  In this one sentence the reader can dip a toe into Tris’ life along with her personality.  A truly selfless person would not care how many mirrors hang on the walls of their household.  This sets up the basis for the whole book because it turns out that Tris is not completely selfless.  Nor is she completely brave, peaceful, truthful, or intelligent.  In fact, Tris is divergent meaning she has many different aptitudes.  As Tris’ 16th birthday approaches the reader learns that she will soon be able to pick her own faction (community).  The book is compelling as it throws its audience into Tris’ life, helping her cope with leaving her family, becoming Dauntless through grueling initiation, and forming friendships strong enough to survive a rebellion.

Character development –
The book wastes no time getting to the point.  For you Suzanne Collins lovers, this book reminds me entirely of the Hunger Games, in that it spends no more than two chapters before sending you straight to the action.  Personally, I had no problem connecting with the main character, Tris, but others claim that they could never get into the book because they didn’t care about anyone in it!  As I remember this book I can see where these book critics are coming from.  Tris doesn’t have an emotionally scarring back-story or love that she has been pining over for years.  Tris is, simply, a teenage girl trying to fit in.  This makes her more relatable to me than anything else because, while she may have different protocols in finding herself, she is still trying to discover who she is just like you and I.
Language usage –
The words chosen by the author of this book are far from scholarly.  This is an easy read.  If you are looking for a book to boost your vocabulary this is not it!  However, Veronica Roth uses straightforward words quite well.  While reading I never found myself wanting more of a description or getting confused.  I quite enjoyed this book partly for its simplicity.  It was not hard to follow which added to the story.
Idea –
The idea of the book is one of the best I’ve ever seen.  It fights for the top spot with The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.  The idea that your personality determines where you live and what your life will be is amazingly original yet, at the same time, relatable to a common situation.  No, we don’t have different communities designated for different personalities, but, at the same time, we kind of do.  College is a great example.  Chances are that an avid artist is not going to end up at MIT.  The same idea suggests that a math head is not going to find themselves at California College of the Arts.  While this may not be as clear cut, Roth definitely portrays a likeness in the real world whether she meant to or not.

What the author was trying to convey –
I think that Roth is trying to tell a story of a strong young woman finding herself.  She is giving teenagers a story to relate to when it comes to their own lives. Fortunately, Roth does this in such a way that it is exciting and memorable.  Unfortunately, this theme can be vague at times.
Overall –
This book was both a fun read and a deep story.  If you are to take one thing from this entire review it is that Divergent is a fast-paced, exciting story with a inspirational female lead and a touch of romance.  Divergent is a book that will keep you thinking for a long time after you read it.  Anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games will enjoy this book.
What I thought –
I loved this book!  I really related to Tris and the story kept me turning the page.  The book can be secretive, but that’s nothing for a suspense lover like myself. This is the best book that I have ever read and you can be sure that this is not the last time I will read it, even if I’m not one to generally reread.

This book, in a literal sense, could be understood by the average 5th grader, but understanding the deeper meaning of the book would be left to the intelligence of a 6th or 7th grader.  I would say that as long as you are a teen, you should be good.

Length –
This book is pretty long. However, I read it in 2 days!  The font is big and the spacing is ample.  It is one of those books that you just can’t put down, making it a pretty fast read.  Not to mention its far from challenging vocabulary.

Who should read it –
Everyone from my dad to my best friend have read this book and they all loved it!  I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, but especially to teenage girls.  Again, Roth makes Tris relatable and a good role model.
If you liked this you might also like –
The Hunger Games                Uglies                         Matched
 by Suzanne Collins       by Scott Westerfield         by Allie Condie

Buy these books at Amazon.com or any of the other links listed at the bottom of the page!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hey all!

What's up? I'm a new blogger and I will be talking about books.   I know that for a lot of you that is just a big groan, but I'm going to make it fun! I won't talk about the boring books your teacher makes you read or books that are waaayyyy to hard. No, I'll talk about books that us young adults (3rd-12th grade) can relate to.  So hold on to your novels its gonna be a whirlwind of reviews!