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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blasts from the Past (#1) Fire Bringer

Fire Bringer
by David Clement-Davies

Publish Date: August 2007
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pages: 512

Rannoch is born to a time when the herd is being subjected to a tyrannical rule, where the new Lord of the Herd will do anything to stay in power, even if that means killing anyone in his path. So, when Rannoch comes into the world with an oak-leaf shaped fawn-mark upon his brow, his foster mother fears for him. The mark is spoken of in an ancient prophecy, and the one who bears it will be a king. His foster mother knows that the Lord of the Herd would attempt to rid this new threat to his rule.

So, begins Rannoch’s journeys. As he grows up roaming between different places, trying to find where he can be safe, Rannoch encounters many tests of character and morals. He comes face-to-face with true evils like ignorance and prejudice. The prophecy unfolds, and Rannoch must live up to his destiny, or the Herla (deer) will fall into darkness.

Although the form the characters take—deer—may seem unlikely for such a tale, the author does an outstanding job keeping them deer-like while at the same time easy for the reader to connect to, much the same as with human characters. The many characters have a depth of character that make them seem very real, and Rannoch, the main character is as believable as he is unique.

The author’s writing style is a pleasure to read, as it is reminiscent of epic stories and ancient legends. An air of mysteriousness hangs around the plot even though what is going on is never really a problem to understand. What was really intriguing, though, was how the novel seemed to be reflecting upon our own world. Aspects of human nature, such as fanatic group mentality and power-hungriness are explored, and the ills of our own world unfold in this excellent tale.

[Note: This book is a bit older, but it's an excellent read! I'll post reviews of some older books that you might not have read before. :) ]

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

About the Pause in Posts

Sorry about the recent pauses in posting, I've been super busy with school and a hectic schedule. I'll get it started right back up next week with some new reviews!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fire by Kristin Cashore


by Kristin Cashore

Release Date: October 5, 2009

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)

Pages: 400

For Fire, reading minds and controlling them is as regular as breathing comes to others. Her name comes from her flame-colored hair that is a result of her being a “monster,” the term for animals normal in all but color in the kingdom known as the Dells. Fire lives in a time where civil war is imminent and the king struggles to stay on the throne. As those loyal to the king race to attempt to stop war in its tracks before it strikes, Fire’s potential to help attracts the royal family’s attention...but Fire has problems of her own.

Fire’s extraordinary beauty and status as a monster make her stand out and many people either hate or love her too much. Between trying to divert attacks on her person and fending off overzealous men, Fire has to decide whether or not she should use her mental powers in the service of the royal family. Her father was also a monster and used his powers for his own pleasure, often hurting others. Fire’s strong feelings against harming others with her power leaves her torn in deciding whether she should use her abilities for interrogation as her duty to her country. Fire desperately tries to distance herself from any connection she might have to her father, which causes her to be in quite the moral quandary in making decisions. Her quest to find her own identity is subtle and goes hand-in-hand with her facing up to the truth of her past and eventual reconciliation with it.

Throughout the novel, the author weaves in snippets of Fire’s past, gradually revealing the truth about her father and his importance in the Dell’s history as well as Fire’s own. It symbolizes Fire’s own journey in discovering who she really is and to really embrace her identity, growing into true adulthood. True to the saying that “actions speak louder than words,” the author does a wonderful job of allowing Fire’s interactions with supporting characters to develop Fire’s character steadily throughout the book until it’s really hard to think of her as anything but a real, living person.

Of course, Fire, like any other novel, contains romance. Fire’s love life is an exceptionally turbulent one. A childhood friend desperately wants her hand in marriage, but Fire declines every time, wishing their relationship to stay as very good friends. However, Fire meets Prince Brigan, and everything about their interactions show that they’re incredibly incompatible. But, Kristin Cashore’s way with subtlety allows a very believable romance to develop between them. It’s this kind of careful, deliberate development in the whole work that allows Fire to be an exceptional read, full of intricate plot elements and conflicts, strong characters, and just a wonderful writing style.

With regards to it being the prequel of Graceling and the second novel Kristin Cashore has written, Fire is an incredible book. It surpasses Graceling, which is quite astonishing, as Graceling is quite the read as well. Kristin Cashore has really outdone herself with Fire, and anyone, not even fantasy fans, should really appreciate this extraordinary novel.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Navel of the World by PJ Hoover

The Navel of the World
by PJ Hoover

Release Date: October 12, 2009
Publisher: Children's Brains are Yummy Books
Pages: 312

Starting up a couple months after where The Emerald Tablet ends, The Navel of the World follows Benjamin and his friends as they try to find Benjamin’s long-lost brothers in order to basically, save the world. They are telegens, more advanced life forms than humans, with powers like telepathy and teleportation. Benjamin and his friends attend summer school for telegens in the hidden continent of Lemuria. They, however, stand out because they were picked by The Emerald Tablet in the previous book to save the failing shield surrounding Atlantis. The rival continent contains some bad seeds that try to use their powers to manipulate humans, making the shield preventing them from reaching the human world necessary.

The Navel of the World follows the same basic pattern as The Emerald Tablet. The protagonists are presented with a problem that is part of their quest to fix the shields surrounding Atlantis, this time finding more of Benjamin’s brothers, and through some coincidences, research, and problem-solving eventually come up with a solution. As the novel is aimed toward a younger audience, this works quite nicely and is easy to follow along. One minor flaw is that the author sometimes mentions various things, such as a course one of the characters takes “Empathy,” without explaining what exactly they are. Further references to these unclear “things,” for lack of a better word, provide small obstructions in the other wise easily understandable flow of the story.

One plot element that was particularly well done was that of time travel. Time travel in itself can be very confusing and complicated, but PJ Hoover does an excellent job making it comprehendible, so much so that most younger readers will not be left baffled.

As the plot thickens, so do the relationships between the group of friends. Budding romance and crushes between the protagonists meets some hitches along the way from newly introduced characters that are snagging the girls away from the boys. Although this does add something to the story overall, it seems a tiny bit out of place. The characters don’t quite act their age, sometimes seeming older and younger than they should be. In truth, I was I tiny bit surprised when I found out that they were supposed to be going into high school. I had thought of them a bit younger. However, the minor discrepancies and a few parts that seem a bit rushed don’t obstruct the major points of the story, and it is quite an enjoyable tale. Younger fantasy fans will enjoy this second part of “The Forgotten Worlds” series and look forward to the next installment.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Waiting on Wenesday (#3)

PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God by Frank Warren

Publisher: William Morrow
Pub. Date:
October 6, 2009

"About the Author

Frank Warren is a small business owner who started as a community art project. Since November 2004 Warren has received more than 150,000 anonymous postcards. The website won two Webby Awards in 2006 and this year was named Weblog of the Year at the Seventh Annual Weblog Awards. The PostSecret project also received a special award from the National Mental Health Association for raising awareness and funds for suicide prevention. Warren lives in Germantown, Maryland, with his wife and daughter."

Although this isn't a conventional book to read, the site where it comes from is great to surf around when you have a little spare time. It's awesome that this will be another book that will be published of these anonymous postcards that people send in with secrets . Sounds interesting, right?

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Max by James Patterson

by James Patterson

Release Date: September 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 309

Maximum Ride and her Flock aren’t completely human. That is, they’re a bunch of surprisingly successful genetic experiments. Part-avian, Part-human, one feature they all share in common is there wings. Apart from flying, each of them has a special ability, such as Angel’s telepathic powers. One of the main differences The Final Warning (Book 4) and Max (Book 5) have with the first three books is that Max and the Flock have gone public; they’re not running around trying to escape from various villains in secret. With connections to a new organization aimed at environmental protection. This time, the Flock is called in to investigate baffling incidences of masses of fish dying and ships being destroyed. They struggle through army protocol, random attacks by their newest mechanical enemies the M-Geeks, and strange encounters with the new super-villain, Mr. Chu, to try to figure out what is causing these new ecological problems.

Although James Patterson’s writing style is as fresh and inventive as ever, the plot line has really suffered some damage. After the first three books, I have to admit that I was surprised that there were going to be more. The fourth book (The Final Warning) just wasn’t on par with the first three and a left many loose ends. Max is quite a bit better, but just as the reader is starting to enjoy Max’s antics again, they come face to face with random plot devices that just don’t fit in. The plot leaves quite a lot to be desired. The ending also seems like a tad bit cheesy of a cliff hanger designed to stretch out the series. I’m making it sound worse than it is, but my point is just that Max might not be what most people expect after reading the first three books (The Angel Experiment, Schools Out—Forever, and Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports).

The strongest point of Max is James Patterson’s ability to write exactly as a spunky teenage girl should sound. Max is an incredible character who’s quips and snappy wit makes her a vibrant person. The rest of the Flock’s hilarious mannerisms and quirks brighten up the story and while Max might not be an extremely exceptional story, it’s still an enjoyable read.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (#2)

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Publisher: Penguin

Pub. Date: October 5, 2009

"She is the last of her kind...

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.

Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don't need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven't, you'll be dying to read it next."

This is the prequel to Graceling, which was fantastic! I definitely can't wait to read Kristin Cashore's new novel! This novel also has an amazing cover, don't you think?

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?