Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Door of No Return by Sarah Mussi

Plot: The main character, Zac, is trying to solve a mystery passed down to him from his grandfather. Zac and his grandfather suspect that a treaty between slave catchers and an African tribe was broken, a long time ago. The treaty had stated that the tribe would pay the slave catchers so no one in the tribe could become a slave, but the slave catchers went back on their word and sold every single tribe
member. Zac is trying to gather enough evidence to sue the English government.

Comments: This was a good book, fiction but it seemed as if it could have really happened. The characters are good, pretty well rounded. Their personalities speak for themselves, without needing a whole lot of details. I like how you only know as much as Zac does, but sometimes something was obvious to me and he was completely clueless, without me having any more information than him. I really like how the history was mixed in with the story. The whole thing sounds pretty plausible, and the whole historical part of the book was portrayed in an interesting, mysterious light.

I like the pace of the story; it moves smoothly, not too slow or too fast. I think the beginning had an interesting hook, but I was unsatisfied with the ending. It was okay, but I had hoped for more hints of the future than were given. The last few words also left something to be desired. I had thought there would be one last sentence on the next page, but there was only the author's note. I was confused, and it took me a little while to realize that those were the last words in the book.

Rating: I give this book a seven out of ten.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Storyteller by Edward Myers

Plot: a poor farmer's boy, Jack, loves to tell stories. They pop up unbidden into his head, begging to be told, so Jack finally decides to seek his fortune in the world by telling his stories. He's discovered by the king, and begins to tell his stories to the melancholy ruler, trying to cheer him up. But dark clouds start moving in, among one shining bright one.

Comments: A pretty good story for when you want something light and amusing. I like the characters, but they aren't very well-rounded. They are people, but not true people. They don't carry a story by themselves; they are merely in the story. I think Jack has to apologize too much to everyone at the end. Even though he made a couple of mistakes, he had good intentions and everything turned out alright. So why did he have to beg to get on his love's good side again? If she really loved him, she would listen, wanting to hear anything that would convince her that he's good, because she wanted to love him. But she wouldn't listen and decided that he was on the bad side. I don't like how Jack has to fix the relationship by himself. I don't like how Jack put everything aside when he fell in love, either. He wouldn't think about anything but her, and I hated how he didn't care about his friend's problem anymore, even though he'd promised to try and fix it.

I like the way the story's being told, but sometimes it felt like I knew the story better than Jack. He was always confused and didn't know what had happened or what to do when it was so obvious to me, and not because I saw some part of the story that he hadn't seen. He was pretty clueless and that annoyed me. I also hated how he just gave up towards the end. I know no one's perfect and most people would do as he would, but I read this story to take a break from my life, and this story only reminded me of what people in life are really like. I think this story was sort of abrupt, too. Too many rough edges and not enough details.

Rating: I rate this book a six and a half out of ten.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Plot: a little girl is growing up in America in the early 1900's, in Brooklyn. Her family is poor and struggles to make ends meet. Her mother vowed that her children would be educated and graduate high school, but with her father earning less money and drinking more, who would bring in the money?

Comments: This is an amazing book, based on a true story. It is a wonderful novel for deep thinkers and those curious as to how life used to be in the United States. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is thoughtful, easily connected to the reader's own life, and incredibly inspiring. This book is longer than it seems, and when you've turned the last page and your eyes have settled on The End, it feels like you've lived through the story, like you were part of the book the whole time and only now are coming back to Earth. This is not necessarily a novel meant for young adults, and is not a good book for when you need a light story to delight you and keep you amused. You will only receive the true effect of this book if you are mature and read it carefully. There are some hints of adult content, but not much, and this story teaches life lessons wise enough to age a person. This book changed my life.

Rating: I rate this book an eight and a half out of ten.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott

Plot: a girl, Zahira, discovers that she is the only surviving heir of the emperor and empress that were murdered when she was young. She decides to challenge the tyrant that took over her realm but realizes that the cruel ruler is her uncle. Zahira starts an uprising and gathers together an army to ovethrow her murderous relative once and for all.

Comments: this is a good book for reading a chapter whenever you find the time because it's easy to pick up where you left off. I like the way the characters are portrayed, but a few times a character was mentioned like a main character, but I had no idea who they were. The names were easy to remember and I like the way the characters interact with each other. I have a hard time imagining what the characters look like, however, even when descriptions are given. I can see the connection between the title and a part in the book, but it is not a very strong connection as the plot changes. The plot is good but hurried, and I think time passes too quickly.

Rating: I give this book a six and a half out of ten.

The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones

Plot: Anita, a girl living an average life as a teenager is abruptly plunged into a world of magic (or the Mystic Arts), fantasy, and faeries. The faeries there tell her she is Tania, the seventh daughter of the Faerie King Oberon, and that she has been living in the Mortal World for the past five hundred years. Anita does not believe them at first, especially since she had lost her memory of the Faerie World, but she gradually realizes that the world she is living in is not a dream. She is forced to choose between the man she loved on Earth and the faerie she was supposed to have loved in her own magical realm.

Comments: an interesting fantasy that intertwines real life and ancient legends of faeries and magic. I like the main character, Anita/Tania, but I don't like how she reacts to the Faerie world. She acts like the entire thing is a dream for a good ways into the story, and it's annoying how she won't wake up and realize it (no pun intended). The names are confusing for a little bit, but only until you get used to the characters as they are introduced into the story. There are a lot of characters you need to know, and they were cleverly introduced in a way that makes it easy to remember them.

Anita/Tania was angry with Evan/Edric and would not talk to him, but it got extremely annoying when time after time she would snub him. I understand the importance of her not listening to his explanation, but I think there was too much emphasis on it. I like the way Anita/Tania's power developes and the twists in the story. I can't wait to read book two, The Lost Queen!

Rating: I shall rate this book a seven and a half out of ten.

Wings by Jason Lethcoe

Note: On the book cover The Mysterious Mr. Spines is also included in the title, but I believe that is the name of the series.

Plot: a teenage boy has an itch on his back he can't scratch that develops into something beautiful and otherworldly. As he discovers new friends in places he'd never imagined, he begins to search for the answer to the secret about himself and his mother.

Comments: a very well done fantasy book, good for reading at night, curled up in a comfy chair and not coming out until you've read the whole thing. Though there are chapters, this book is not good for stop-and-go reading. It's better to read this story all at once, and even better if you have the entire series with you. I think this book ended extremely abruptly and I don't appreciate having to wait for the next book, and then the next, and so on. I think this story would have been better as one big book instead of a few small ones. The characters are not well developed and you don't know much about any of them.

The story is confusing, with names of creatures and places and no image to put them to. I didn't know what hardly anyone looked like (the picture on the front of the main character looks more like eight years old than fourteen, which makes it hard to imagine him) since the descriptions came later in the book rather than sooner. The main character is very likable, and I appreciate the way he thinks, though he's a little rash more than once. I think this book could have been written more carefully and more considerately towards the readers. A bit of mystery is always good, but in this case the line was crossed.

Rating: This book gets a six out of ten.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Plot: a teenage girl and her younger brother go to stay with their grandparents for two and a half weeks. The property seems like a beautiful, peaceful farm, but soon Kendra and Seth begin to discover that Fablehaven is not what it seems.

Comments: a great fantasy book, perfect for a boring summer day when you need a book to pass the time. Fablehaven is realistic, so you can imagine the whole story unfolding a little ways away as you read. The main character is Kendra, the thirteen-year-old girl, but I feel like I know her younger brother Seth better than her. When something interesting happens, I can think up plenty of ways Seth might react, but not Kendra. It's not that she's unpredictable; I just don't have a good idea of the kind of person she is. That's not good, because she's the main character.

I like the plot, but it was a little predictable once the story got going. I like the descriptions of the fairies and other creatures, and I think their characters are displayed well. There are plenty of creative twists to this plot, and I like the way Brandon Mull writes. I can't wait for Book Two! I would suggest, however, that next time the author pay more attention to his characters and remember that however clearly the author sees the characters, us readers only have the words to go on.

Rating: I give this book a seven out of ten.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Clovermead by David Randall

Plot: a girl gets caught up in a fight between her father, a new friend, and an old enemy of her father's. A secret starts to surface, and she realizes her life is not what she thought it was.

Comments: a good book, a little fast-paced and hasty. I like the characters and the way they're portrayed. The ending is a little abrupt, I think, but it fits and it's a good ending. I like how the book proves not everyone is perfect, but I also like that it shows people make mistakes and it's never too late to turn around. The plot is good, but it gets confusing a lot of the time.

Rating: This book gets a six out of ten.

Blackthorn Winter by Kathryn Reiss

Plot: a girl moves to a small, dreary village in England from sunny California when her mom needs a break from her dad. Soon after they arrive, the mom's old friend is murdered, and the village drunk is arrested. But the girl doesn't think it was him, and she begins to investigate, searching for the real killer.

Comments: A good book, with nice descriptions and a good use of words. I can imagine some of the characters actually living in England, but not all of them. Some characters are well rounded, and other aren't. I don't like how the main character begins to suspect everyone of being the murderer. Of course, the one person she doesn't suspect turns out to be the killer, and of course he has to gloat and brag about it when she finds out. (What is it with bad guys and speeches??) I like how the author uses English words instead of American ones, like using dinner instead of lunch, and chums instead of friends. It's both confusing and interesting.

Rating: I shall rate this book a seven out of ten.

Sketches by Eric Walters

Plot: a girl is living on the streets and starts to visit a drop-in center for homeless kids called Sketches. At Sketches, kids can paint, make pottery, create computer games, and all sorts of art, instead of receiving food and shelter. As the girl works on a painting and struggles to survive, a secret begins to surface, the reason why she's on the street.

Comments: I really liked this book because it was showing something that could happen to anybody, and reminded me to be grateful for what I have. The characters weren't very well rounded; they only had a trait or two, and they didn't seem like real people. I think the way her secret is revealed doesn't have enough of an impact as it could have. It was almost casual, and way too smooth. Something that emotional should have a bigger impact on people, and have a jagged, rocky result, or at least a little bumpy. It was confusing when time passed because I had to realize it by myself and try to decipher how much time had passed. The ending barely hinted at the future, so I feel like the girl's life ended when I turned the last page. It's not like she really died, it just didn't seem like anything else would happen when the book ended.

Rating: This book gets a six and a half out of ten.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

Book Three in the Percy Jackson series

Plot: Annabeth and the hunting goddess Artemis are in trouble, and it's up to Percy, Grover, Thalia, and a few others to save them and stop the bad guys. The bad guys are getting stronger and Percy and Thalia are getting older, growing closer and closer to the prophecy that says one of them will either destroy the gods or save them.

Comments: I love how Percy talks because it's like how I talk, so he seems real. It's a little annoying how everything seems to work out. Not necessarily in a good way, but everything is organized and it feels too neat. It's also annoying how every single time it seems like the bad guys have won, a bad guy has to make a speech and gloat about it, wasting enough time for the good guys to react and beat them. Don't get me wrong; I like the good guys winning. But does every bad guy really have to gloat and boast in every movie I see and every book I read? I liked seeing different sides of people in this book. It was refreshing to not read about the exact same characters every time. They're always a little bit different. I couldn't wait to get to the part where the secrets are finally revealed, and that was both interesting and exasperating.

Rating: I consider this book a seven out of ten.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mothstorm by Philip Reeve

Sequel to Starcross, which is a sequel to Larklight.

Plot: another being like Art and Myrtle's mom shows up, trying to take over the entire universe as we know it! Once again, Art, Myrtle, and Jack have to work together to save everyone.

Comments: this book is a lot like Larklight and Starcross. Myrtle and Jack are together again, and some new characters appear in this story. I don't like all the different names because they make it confusing and I keep mixing characters up. As I said, this is a lot like the two prequels, so it's getting a little bit boring, but the adventure is a lot different, so it's still a good book.

Rating: This book gets a seven out of ten.

The Sight by David Clement-Davies

Plot: a wolf seer finds out that a wolf pup has been born with the same power as herself. She wants the pup to join her in her quest for power, but the pup's family is protective and loving and will not give the pup over to the evil wolf. The family is cursed and slowly begins to fall apart at the seams.

Comments: I like the plot a lot, but I think this story was dragged out way too long. I skimmed over a huge section in the book because it was boring and seemed completely unimportant. The characters were well developed, but I thought there were too many, and the names were extremely confusing. I wish the main character would have been established more firmly in the beginning. I loved a character that I'd thought was the main one, but the main character turned out to be someone more on the sidelines, one I didn't like very much. It was probably meant to be a shock, but I didn't like it all the same, because I hadn't liked or paid attention to the main character.

Rating: This book gets a six out of ten.

Chosen by Ted Dekker

Book 1 of The Lost Books series

Plot: two boys and two girls have to travel around to find a powerful treasure that, if put in the wrong hands, would destroy their world. The wrong hands, of course, are searching for the priceless treasure also.

Comments: I really like the beginning; it's interesting, a good hook to the reader, and it makes you like the main character before really knowing them. I don't think the characters are pictured well. I really only know one or two things about each boy and girl, and though they fit the plot well, they aren't fully formed characters, in my opinion. I think that the book jumps into the thick of the plot too fast. If it had just started developing the plot, it would have been better than all of a sudden finding yourself in the middle of it. It was hastily done and slightly confusing. The plot was good, and I like how the characters don't immediately solve the problem and save the day. I also like that the characters aren't completely pure, unselfish people; they're more like actual human beings.

Rating: I give this book a six and a half out of ten.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pendragon Series by D. J. MacHale

I only commented on and rated books one, two, and three (The Merchant of Death, The Lost City of Faar, and The Never War) of the Pendragon series, but I decided I'm not going to rate any more.

When I started rating the series, updating the blog as I read, I hadn't realized there were ten books in the series, and I've basically been repeating myself for the three ratings I posted.

Even though I've now only read to book number eight (The Pilgrims of Rayne), I'm going to rate the series overall.

Plot: boy travels to different worlds to fight the evil Saint Dane. Along with friends and a lot of determination, this boy attempts to save the worlds from Saint Dane's evil plan; to topple the worlds and control them all, basically.

Comments: Good plot, with descriptive, realistic characters. It gets really predictable, though. I mean, the plot's different each time, but it always has the same base and the same words and I get deja vu reading it. I like how the story isn’t always focused on Bobby, the main character.
I can’t tell you what I think about the ending since I haven’t read it yet, but I wouldn’t have given it away anyways. I would like this series better if it had been over more quickly. Not that I don’t like reading it, but after the fifth book, it’s leaning towards tiring rather than exciting.

Rating: This series overall gets a seven and a half out of ten.

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce

Series One: The Circle of Magic
Series Two: The Circle Opens
Then comes this book standing by itself.

Plot: Years later, the four mages are together once again, but they aren't getting along so well. They're always fighting and disagreeing with each other. Sandry goes to meet her cousin, the Empress of Namorn, and to view the vast lands she had inherited from her mother, managed by years from another cousin. Daja, Briar, and Tris go with her, but they still aren't very good friends. The mages soon realize what the Empress has in store for them, and struggle to get home.

Comments: a very good book, and nice and big, too! It's an interesting plot twist that the mages aren't friends anymore, and I like reading about the Empress's plans and schemes. I don't like how most of the women that aren't main characters are always pretty and flirt with Briar. I don't think it's fair to portray women like that, but come to think of it, I think all of them were servants, and maybe it was deliberate? I don't know, but I still don't like it. I loved the plot of this book.

This book was extremely confusing. There were too many names and places to remember and I kept mixing them all up. The book jumped forward in time from The Circle Opens series, but it didn't mention it, so I didn't know how old the main characters were or what they had been doing for the past years. Another thing: where the hell is Gyongxe?? I kept hearing mentions all throughout the book about it. Briar being locked up in Gyongxe, having nightmares about Gyongxe, and there having been some kind of disaster in Gyongxe. Did I miss a second plot in Street Magic (Briar's book in The Circle Opens series) or was I supposed to pick it up from the various mentions in The Will of the Empress? Edit: there was another book, Melting Stones, that I was apparently supposed to find and read before The Will of the Empress.

Rating: This book gets an eight out of ten.

The Circle Opens by Tamora Pierce

The Circle Opens is a series of four books. The four individual books are Magic Steps, Street Magic, Cold Fire, and Shatterglass.

This series is sequel to the series The Circle of Magic.

Plot: the four kids are back, and are now officially mages at the age of thirteen, while becoming a mage when you are in your early twenties is considered impressive. This causes much jealousy and anger from other students and mages, but that's not the problem. The four mages separate and go off with their teachers to have their own adventures.

Comments: I didn't like this series as much as the first series. I think that's because I like the mages better together instead of reading about them separately. It's annoying to have to finish one book and start another just to hear about a different character. But, I suppose a change like that is good, and I probably would have gotten bored if they all went everywhere together. Besides, that could strain the author's imagination, trying to think up reasons for them all to go everywhere. (No offense to Tamora Pierce; she is a truly great writer, and I immensely respect her writing abilities.) I got to know the individual characters a little better in this book, but the names were confusing, because for each book I had to remember another large set of names. I really liked the plots for the books, though, and I like how each ended up with someone to teach, because it shows them growing up.

Rating: This series will receive a seven and a half out of ten.

The Circle of Magic by Tamora Pierce

The Circle of Magic is a series of four books, but they could be one book, and that's how I'm rating them. The individual books are Sandry's Book, Daja's Book, Briar's Book, and Tris's Book.

The series after this is called The Circle Opens, with another four books.

Plot: four kids are taken to Winding Circle, a temple/magic school, because they don't fit in where they are and are suspected of having magic. They become great friends and develop powers far greater than the average mage, having all sorts of adventures along the way.

Comments: I love fantasy books, so I was easily hooked on this magic-based series. The characters were all very different, and clashed all the time, but found they had a few things in common after all. I like how the characters react in ways I imagine a real person would instead of acting calmly and trying to work things out with words and the like. On the whole, the events flawlessly go from one to the other, and the overall effect is an easy read. I think, though, that the kids used their magic too much to solve problems. I would have liked seeing them work something out without having to resort to power an average person does not have.

Rating: I shall give this series, all together, an eight out of ten.

the dead and the gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Note: the book title is not spelled with capitals. I'm a perfectionist, so don't think I'm getting lazy.

Plot: the moon gets knocked closer to Earth, causing a whole bunch of bad problems everywhere. Main disasters: no food, money is worthless, and everyone is dying. A teenage boy tries to take care of his sisters with no income and no end in sight to this worldwide free-for-all.

Comments: a good book, though it started to get a little boring towards the end, since there were always the same problems and nothing much happened. I don't like how the boy treats his sisters. The girls always have to do all the housework and cooking, and the boy acts like their master. What I hate most, though, is that most of the time, the girls accept his authority. Ugh! I hate sexism! The plot was creative and interesting, is a bit tedious. I would have liked this book a lot better if the girls weren't always relying on their brother to save them. It surprises me, because this book was written by a woman. I don't care that the person who took control is a boy; I hate that the girls do housewife things while the boy takes care of them.

Rating: I rate this book a six out of ten. The sexism lowered it a lot.