Monday, June 28, 2010

Vanishing Girl by Shane Peacock

Book three in the Boy Sherlock Holmes series. Click here for book four.

Plot: the young Sherlock Holmes is back, and his third case is the most confusing yet. The daughter of one of the most powerful men in the city has been kidnapped - and there is no ransom note! No trace of the girl has been left behind, but Sherlock believes he can find her before the police, or his archenemy, Malevolent, and his band of ruffians.

Comments: when I first started reading this series - did I post the second and third books? No, I guess I haven't. The first book is called Eye of the Crow and the second is called Death in the Air. Both were good, better than this one. I think I like Death in the Air best. Anyway, when I first started reading this series, Sherlock was an innocent, curious boy. A little odd, but a good boy. Now, by the third book, I don't like him anymore. He's rather obsessed with showing up the police and Malevolent, to the point that it gets boring. There's a girl, a well-off girl named Irene, that he met in the first book. At first, I liked her too, but I hated her in this book! She was once a good friend of Sherlock's, but now she has chosen to side with Malevolent, a scheming criminal - and yet Sherlock still wants to get her back, even though she uses him to get what she wants. She used to be innocent, too, and now she's a conniving brat.

The story was original, but I didn't particularly enjoy it, mostly because I have no affection for the characters anymore. I'm afraid that's all I can think of right now. The first two books were good, so I do recommend you read those. At the end of this book, Sherlock seemed to go through a change, and I think he'll be better in the next book. I haven't read the fourth book yet, but I'm planning on it, and I'll let you know if it's worth it to read the third book.

Rating: I rate this book a five and a half out of ten. Barely worth it.

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

Plot: Eon, a candidate to become the powerful sorcerer Rat Dragoneye, has a secret: he is actually a teenage girl masquerading as a young boy. When the unthinkable happens, Eona is plunged into a world of formality and politics and must struggle to keep her true identity secret, or face the worst imaginable consequences.

Comments: I really enjoyed reading this book! I love fantasies like this. The dragons resemble the zodiac and the setting is somewhat Asian - and I must admit I am obsessed with dragons and Asian culture, so this story was a perfect fit! At first, I didn't like Eona that much; she was a bit of a whiner and a little wimpy, unable to do anything without someone guiding her every move. But she soon began voicing her own opinions and proved herself a sharp and strong-willed young woman, which I always admire in characters.

It's hard to say who my favorite character in this book was. Obviously I liked Eona (more and more as the book progressed), but I also felt attached to Lady Dela and her bodyguard (I've forgotten his name, which makes me feel bad, but I can't find it anywhere on the internet and I already returned the book). Lady Dela is a woman with a man's body, and a very supportive character to Eona. I love how clever she is, and how well she plays the political games in the palace. Lady Dela's bodyguard is a physically powerful and protective man, and he proves to be a kind-hearted person - though when he needs to be, he can turn into a cold-hearted killer. I didn't appreciate how he acted towards Eona when he learned her secret, even though he had trusted her and felt betrayed. The character I didn't like was Ido, the antagonist. Yes, I know you aren't supposed to like the antagonist, but I mean I didn't like the way he was portrayed. Ido felt like a generic villian, like a copy out of a mold; he wasn't very original. I think Alison Goodman could have spent more time creating him.

I also think the author could have spent less time describing everything. Personally, I like to use my imagination a little bit, so when every little detail is laid out for me, I get bored trawling through it all, so I tend to skip. I must admit that I skipped quite a lot in this book - sometimes whole pages - and I don't feel guilty about it, either. I'm not about to read a book that's uninteresting, so I'll skip the boring parts to get to the interesting parts. I think that because this story isn't set in the modern world, the author felt the need to explain what everything was like, but I still believe that less is more in some cases. Sometimes simplicity is a blessing. Another thing: Eona had way too much doubt in herself. It got to the point that I was waiting for her to have another panic attack, another self-guilt session. Frankly, it was annoying.

Rating: I rate this book a six and a half out of ten. Great story - the parts that I actually read, at least.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

This is a true story.

Plot: In 1933, an emaciated Greg Mortenson, after a failed attempt on climbing K2, stumbled across a poor Pakistani village where he slowly regained his health. Before he left, Mortenson promised the village that he would return to build them a school. This book is about his adventures and how he came to establish the Central Asia Institute, a non-profit that has, at last count, built fifty-five schools in impoverished countries.

First Line: "Greg Mortenson was lost."

Comments: This book held an amazing story, one that needs to be shared with everyone. Greg Mortenson is an incredible person who has accomplished many great things. He has sacrificed much and completely immerses himself in the act of giving to others. Not only is this story inspiring and mind-blowing, but it teaches good lessons, too. I learned a lot about other cultures, and I was surprised at a lot of the cultural differences I came across. Mortenson was able to look past all the differences and saw children that needed education, a future, and most of all, hope. I hope to do something as great and selfless as he has.

I recommend this book for all ages. However, it's not written to please the reader; some may find the writing style boring or dry. I think you should read this book not for the enjoyment of reading but to hear the story the pages tell. Another thing: it's not like a written documentary - this book made me laugh and made me think, and reading this opened my eyes to unconditional love and emotion.

Rating: I'm afraid I can't rate this book, because it would be like rating a life story - after all, that's kind of what it is. All I can say is that I definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

The three books in this trilogy are The Awakening, The Summoning, and The Reckoning, in order from first to last.

Plot: when ordinary Chloe Saunders discovers she can see ghosts and is sent to a mental home by the unbelieving hospital staff, she begins an adventure in which she will communicate with dead people, run from cruel, powerful scientists with guns, and turn into someone she could never have imagined.

First Line: "Mommy forgot to warn the new babysitter about the basement."

Comments: I loved this series! I couldn't put any of the books down. Unfortunately, I didn't have all three books at once, so I couldn't immediately continue reading (if you're a fast reader like me, I recommend that you have all three books in your possession before you start reading them). The plots in these books drew me in and captivated me. I devoured the Darkest Powers Trilogy, and I really hope there will be more!

The characters were amazing. I could imagine all of them really well (not necessarily physically, but I've never been good at that anyway), and they were definitely easy to relate to. The main characters were all so different; each has their own personality and qualities, and they are very well defined. I love Chloe and feel like I can relate to her - except for the enviable super power, of course. I admire how she doesn't let people coddle her and how independent she is. Simon is sweet and amiable, and I can imagine him as the popular guy, but personally, I perfer Derek. Derek is...complicated. I'm afraid I can't relate to him much - although I'm not sure that you're meant to. Liz is loyal and cute, and I really felt for her. Tori is rather rude and self-centered, but she goes through changes like everyone else throughout this story.

I'm amazed at the complexity and creativity of these stories. They are works of art! My favorite was the last book, The Reckoning. I didn't think the first book, The Awakening, started very quickly. In fact, the end of the first book felt almost like the beginning of the real story to me, which is partly why I was so eager to read the next book, The Summoning. Don't get me wrong - it's not like the first book was boring. No, definitely not! It was interesting and engrossing - it's just that I felt like the real adventure began more towards the end.

I absolutely recommend all three of these books! The only thing is that these novels are meant to be for teens, and there is some more mature stuff in them. However, it's nothing graphic - I'd recommend them for maybe 12 year-olds and up.

Rating: I rate this trilogy a ten out of ten!