Sunday, May 31, 2009

May Books

It appears that this month I read even less than usual. But then again, that's not a bad thing. At least I enjoyed all the books I read, as opposed to reading a few sub-par books I did not enjoy.

I don't think I'll ever forget how much I liked Jane Eyre. It sure opened me up to the possibility that not all classics are dully written. For sure, Persepolis was a fascinating story, because I learned a little bit about how it was like to live in Iran as a kid in the '80s. At least, it was interesting in graphic novel form. On reflection, I suppose Stephen Colbert's book, I am America, was in fact pretty funny. Perhaps that's because sometime after, we took out a DVD of "the best of the Colbert Report" from the library, and seeing the best of what Stephen had to offer convinced me that he's a funny guy. You all know, of course, which book makes it to my number 1 spot this month. PENDRAGON #10! What a work of fiction! D. J. MacHale is the male equivalent of J. K. Rowling, I swear! Don't believe me? Check out the link that leads to my review. Or better yet, just read the darn thing. Unless you've only started the series (^,~), in which case, please read all the books in the correct order and get to number 10 quickly. This book will not make you sorry you did. Moving on. I very much enjoyed Fablehaven and promise to get into the rest of the series very soon, as well as the Imaginarium Geographica Chronicles. I'm glad I found a couple new series that are worth following.

I don't know what I'll read in the month to come, but I'm willing to bet that I'll probably read as much as I did this month, if at all. Still, that's okay. I've acquired a lot of fantastic stories this year that now all dwell in my head. I believe over 55. I don't know. I think I'm losing count. But 11 books a month on average isn't bad, is it?

J. N., if you don't review any books this month, I promise I'll have your membership to my book blog revoked. I know you've probably got lots of other stuff on your mind, but if you're not going to share what novels you've been reading this year, then what's the point of being a member?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica: Here, There be Dragons, by James A. Owen

I remember passing this book several times in the store, completely uninterested by the cover. I used to be pretty picky then, and totally judged books by their covers. I mean, look. Doesn't that look like a bit of a creepy story? But time and time again, I find that my first impressions are often entirely wrong. Thanks to Graham's recommendation, I had a reason to give this series a try.

The book starts off in 20th century England (a period and place I love reading about almost as much as modern America). The main characters are three Oxford men who are brought together because a professor of theirs dies. You don't get a clue throughout the story, but these three men actually go on to become world famous authors. Following Graham's example, however, I will refrain from revealing the characters' names so that you can read the book yourself. Anyway, these heroes have to guard this precious book, an atlas full of maps from the realm of fictional lands, the Imaginarium Geographica.

So these three English dudes are hurled into this high seas adventure of the imagination, where elements from various fantasy novels come into play around every corner. Talking animals, elves, trolls, magic rings, an army full of a unique brand of undead, and, of course, dragons. Well, you'd expect there to be some dragons in it, wouldn't you?

The book was really nice. The characters were well thought out and had lots of life in them. Each revelation uncovered in the course of the story was a genuine surprise, which was a good plus. I dislike stories where you can predict the outcome a mile away. I think the villain was okay. Though I'm a bit confused by Graham's review of the series. How does the Winter King keep reappearing? In the end of the first book, he literally gets sent off the edge of the world, so isn't he supposed to be falling down a dark, eternal abyss?

I know, I know. I have to read it for myself. And I probably will, eventually. But I'm going to take it easy with my fiction intake this month. I need to be focused enough to write more in my own novel. I haven't worked on it in ages. (Although as soon as Graham finished Pendragon 1, Merchant of Death, I'll see what I can do about getting the second Fablehaven.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fabelhaven, by Brandon Mull

Okay, so I guess Pendragon # 10 was not the last thing I'd review this month. And neither is this book. I'm still reading another recommendation of Graham's, Here, There be Dragons, but I promise that that will be the final review. Reading is fun, but I definitely need to get back to my own book writing.

I discovered that after awhile, for some reason, I grew tired of reading Elantris. I decided that Brandon Sanderson wasn't necessarily for me, so I returned that and Mistborn to the library. I also returned Epic, but I kept Fablehaven and Here, There be Dragons. I think it's partly because I want to get through my reading load quickly, but mostly I believe I've got a special taste in what I'm willing to try reading. I think I didn't want to read Brandon Sanderson's works or Epic because the stories are about completely imaginary worlds that have all kinds of rules that the author invented, and I'm not quite that willing to learn a whole new set of rules for the sake of enjoying the story set in front of me. Fablehaven and Here, There be Dragons, however, are novels that start off in a familiar way. The main characters are humans who live in a normal world and have regular, mortal concerns in life. They just happen to be thrown into unusual circumstances by the time the story starts for them. I like that, because then we all start on the same level. The reader, as well as the confused protagonist, has to have time to learn the ropes in order to save the day. At least, that's my theory about it, anyway. That's how I'm writing my book.

Anyway, back to the regularly scheduled review. Fablehaven seems to be quite an interesting start to a series. It reminded me a bit of The Spiderwick Chronicles, only this was better, I believe (I really didn't like the Spiderwick movie made by Nickelodeon, despite the fact that Freddy Highmore was in it. It very much soured up my opinions for the book series). Two young kids, a cautious girl and a mischievous boy, get dropped off at their grandparents' house while their parents go away on a cruise. The kids later find out that the grandparents are caretakers of a large, magical preserve for mythical creatures. Sounds like fun, huh? Well, as the children discover, fantasy isn't always so fluffy and suger-coated.

I think the book was really good. The characters were memorable and well thought out, and Mull's magic rules seem valid enough too. It's mostly based on the common sense that if you don't bother the magic creatures, they won't bother you. But if you cause any mischief, whether on purpose or on accident, they can punish you really bad.

As much as I enjoyed reading Fablehaven, though, I don't think I'll get into the series. It'll just be another distraction for me. Besides, it's a great standalone novel. But I still happily recommend the series to kids who like stories about magic, like my brother Adam.
Coming up: Here, There be Dragons, from the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pendragon #10: Soldiers of Halla, by D.J. MacHale

I.......... AM.......... FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!
(10 dots for each ellipse and 10 exclamation points, all representing my triumph over the 10th and final Pendragon adventure! Also, this is the largest type I'm allowed to use. That's how excited I am. ^_^)

It's incredible! I can hardly wrap my mind around it! This was the moment I've been working towards for soooo long! And... now it's over. -,- That's just too bad. But I'm not going to dwell on that, because that would ruin my tirade of how truly awesome the last book was!

Honestly, it was much like reading the final book of Harry Potter, only... well, I can't say it was better, since I love Harry so much and would hate to see him topple off his perch in my number one spot of best loved series, but Bobby is too good to be content with second place. So let's just say that Potter and Pendragon are holding hands at the finish line of their stories. Because it's the finale of a series that makes a reader decide whether it had all been worth it. The suspense. The adventure. The romance. The slight humor that you can't help smiling at, maybe even laugh at. The heartaches. The turmoil. The challenges. The cliff-hangers. The victories. The surprises. The characters. The villains that emulate every spirit of evilness in the world in one persona. The heroes you would follow to the ends of their worlds, cheering them on every step of their way to make things right for their people, risking everything. And of course, the universes of the stories themselves, sprung from the imaginations of two wonderful people, which are filled with the most amazing, mind-blowing, unbelievable, and yes, even magical, worlds I could never have imagined on my own. This is why I love reading so much.

I cannot give enough praise to D. J. for what he's published for the whole world to see. It's just terrific. (Graham, I'm talking to you. If you weren't convinced before to get into Pendragon, you've absolutely got to get started now! This series is too exciting to miss!) It is sooo hard to believe that I started this "journey through time and space" less than a year ago. Now I'm done.

I'm so glad I decided to just finish it already. I had a feeling that all the other books I borrowed from the library could definitely wait for another time. I wouldn't mind if Pendragon would be the last book I reviewed this month. I need to get back to writing my own incredible tale. I shouldn't be distracted by the hopes of fictional worlds that will seem hollow for a while after what I've just read.

Yes, I know. I've managed to reveal absolutely nothing about the plot-line of The Soldiers of Halla. Well, as much as I loved this book, I'd sure hate to be the one to ruin it for those who haven't yet read it. Funny, I thought I'd have a much harder time keeping the story a secret. But you know what? 

...I can't resist. ^,^

Here's a few things you can expect from this book, without any worry of spoiling the story. Sorry to tease and torture you like this, but I think it'll be fun for me:
  • You may have thought it was over from the end of the last book, but in reality, Bobby and his friends are so far from over that they're on the far side of Pluto, it's so far. ^,^ (No! Not literally! Shut up! They don't go to Pluto. *snort* It's in a metaphorical sense. Duh!)
  • There is much jumping between territories. You'd never believe it. And you thought the flumes were destroyed, right? Well, the Travellers still have a way to travel...
  • The stakes are higher than ever before. It's not just about saving Halla. It's saving the spirit of Halla... (I'll let you think on that. ^,*)
  • The military-like planning and fighting scenes are awesome! Not to mention the final battle. So appropriate!
  • All you really have to know is that all the other books were a prelude compared to this epic! I swear, I could never have predicted it would come to this when I first picked the series up. Not in a million years!
Okay, enough of those vagueties (if that's actually a word). I still have a couple things I'm dying to share about the final book. Please forgive me if these secrets spoil your reading experience:
  • A few people you thought were dead? They're not. Doh! I'm so sorry! That's a big one to give away. But trust me. It'll still be a relief to find out why they're not dead.
  • Saint Dane's demise is sooo cool! Yes, I'm sorry about not putting you through the suspense, but Saint Dane is beaten for good. He completely deserved what he got. It was almost cooler than reading about Lord Voldemort's final defeat. Almost. ^,~
  • The last chapter, what I'd call the epilogue (even though it doesn't say "Epilogue," that's ultimately what it is), I'd have to say is just a mite better than Harry Potter's. It's honestly all worth it in the end. Yes, it takes place in Bobby's future. (Uh-huh, sorry to spoil it, but Bobby has a future.) And what a future it is! It's completely worth it in the end. It truly comes full circle. To the very... last... sentence.
If you have any comments to share, I hope they're long ones. Please don't play concise with me. If you've read the book, please tell me if you can add anything to MacHale's pile of compliments. I hope all my friends can enjoy what I've just enjoyed to the fullest.

So glad I decided to buy it and not wait for it to come in the library!!! ^,^

Friday, May 22, 2009

Two books at a time.

This will be a short report, because as much as I liked these books, if you know me, there's only one novel I really care about right now. Yeah. These stories absolutely pale in comparison to the epic that is Pendragon # 10: Soldiers of Halla. But I'm not gonna talk about that now.

The book I finished first was a graphic novel that Annette picked up from the library. It's a pretty fascinating plot. The main character is a young Iranian girl living in the '80s. It's based on the author's actual life. It's hard to define what happens, but she definitely had a brutal childhood. It reminded me of the new movie, Slumdog Millionaire. They may be foreigners, but I still cannot believe that people can live the way they do in those stories. Anyway, I think there's supposed to be a sequel to this book, which is a good thing. I really liked the art style. That's a key thing. The story is definitely good, but if the artwork wasn't so simple and easy to follow, I probably wouldn't have shown any interest in it.

The other book I finished, I'd say was... alright. I took it up after it was recommended by Graham. I like Stephen Colbert, but his comic style is a little out there for me. I mean, I have a feeling that everything he writes is all in fun and he's just teasing America, but his manner is pretty harsh. I don't agree with a lot of his beliefs, and all his ideas and opinions are pretty wacky. I know how he runs his T.V. show, and this book was just like that, only probably more... concentrated. Like Graham said, no aspect of American life is safe from this guy's rampage.

I liked the margins and the footnotes, but I wouldn't say I busted out laughing at his political humor. Like, whenever I read something meant to be funny, I probably smiled with a wince. It wasn't funny enough for me to laugh at. My taste is more aimed at SNL style humor, or Jon Stewart. Now there's a nice guy. I wonder if he'll find the time to write a book. Recently I saw Larry King come on the show with his book (seems like an interesting read), and they had a funny talk. My favorite part was when Larry's like, "Hey, I'm a little older than you," and Jon says, "A little?" ^_^ lol.

Okay. I'm done here. Coming up next: The moment you've all been waiting for...

My review of Pendragon #10.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

At last, I am done. What a classic! Normally I don't read old classics because I expect them to be boring and full of people using outdated language and such. Like, perhaps the story would be exciting enough, but the manner in which the story is told wouldn't be. I remember trying to read David Copperfield after seeing the movie of it, which had been a good one, (Daniel Radcliffe played Copperfield as a young boy. He was sooo cute there! It also had Dame Maggie Smith, who plays Proffesor McGonagall, so that was extra awesome to have two Harry Potter characters.) but the book, as Charles Dickens had written it, was so dull and drawn out that I didn't bother to finish it.

But I think Jane Eyre was quite a worthwhile read. I didn't feel bored much when reading it, and though the language used would be considered old-fashioned, there is such a romantic and poetic ring to whatever verses or dialogue goes into the novel. It's kind of a not-quite Shakespearean talk that one sometimes wishes people still used, because it's so expressive.

I believe I really enjoyed the story because it had a sort of Twilight feel to it. Like, it's a brilliant love story. The title character, Jane, is a young lady with lots of great qualities in a woman. She's smart, quick-witted, thinks herself plain when other people might say she's pretty, very polite and honest. When she moves into a mansion as a new governess (a sort of nanny who teaches the children of the house... I suppose, in effect, home-schooling them!), she gets to know the slightly eccentric master of the house, Mr. Edward Rochester. Of course, with a name like Edward, who do you think I think of? ^,^ But honestly, as these two people start falling in love, the passion that Mr. Rochester develops for Jane is so strong that it reminds me of the connection between Edward and Bella. Even though Rochester isn't a vampire, he is still very fierce and passionate and wishes he could give everything in the world for Jane.

There's no battle of good versus evil, but it's still quite the epic story. Another thing that I liked about reading Jane Eyre was that I was constantly being reminded of the British, kind of sci-fi mystery series I'd enjoyed reading how many months ago, the Thursday Next series, by Jasper Fforde (yeah, that's not a typo. That's his name, with a double "f"), the first of which was The Eyre Affair. That was a cool book, where the main character, a kind of literary detective who goes into the books themselves to solve an awesome mystery, goes into the Jane Eyre story. Apparently it used to be a different story altogether, but then she makes things happen that actually show up in the real story. Like when Rochester's bed almost catches fire and Jane puts it out, I think there was some really some kind of accident. In The Eyre Affair, anyway. In Jane Eyre, they blame it on Rochester's crazy first wife. Also, when his whole mansion burns down while Jane is away with her cousins, and Rochester loses his eyesight and one of his arms, I think there was actually a battle with the main villain. He gets killed, don't worry. It was just really fascinating to remember those parts of the story while reading the real Jane Eyre novel.

It ends so happily, with Jane and Edward finally happily married, even though Edward has to rely on Jane for a lot because of his mutilation, but it's quite romantic. If anyone liked the Twilight Saga, I think Jane Eyre would be the best classic match for them. It was for me. Of course, you may not be as patient as I am with such a huge story or old fashioned dialogue, and there were a lot of footnotes and references that I had to keep flipping to the end for, but I honestly think the book was worth reading. You might not read it, but I just wanted to let you know how much I myself loved it.

BTW, I finished the book last night, and this morning I read Chapter 3 of Pendragon #10. It is so awesome! I want to read more, but I've got to restrain myself and wait until I've finished another book. ~_~ I'm putting this on myself and I'm going to stand firm, no matter how much I want to know what happens next.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Books to read

I'm going to the library today, and I already know that I've got two more books ready for me to pick up. I'm so over-loaded with books right now! Argh!!!

I don't know whether I'll have enough time to read them all, but here's all the books that will (hopefully!) show up sometime on this blog:
I have a few chapters of Jane Eyre to go, so I should post about that first. I've already read the first chapters of I am America and Elantris, and they seem pretty good so far, so I might get to those next. The rest I'm not quite so sure about, but they've all been recommended from what I think is a dependable source, so I think I'll read them and like them. Fablehaven and Epic I have yet to gain possession of. And, of course, there's Pendragon to deal with. ^,^ Man, will I be glad to get to that...
I think, so I don't go crazy with impatience, whenever I finish a book on my list, I'll read one chapter of Pendragon, just to see what happens next. That'll be a good incentive for me to read fast.

But then, this puts me in a sort of bind, because (despite my wishes) I can't very well spend all of my time lazing about and reading fantasy fiction. I have a life to live! Hopefully, I will make this work.

I own Pendragon 10! ^,^ Yay!

I can barely believe it! The book is mine! I have Pendragon, Book 10: The Soldiers of Halla to keep for my very own! I am so so so sooooo happy! (I bet some of you are jealous of me now, huh? ^,~) I got it at Books-A-Million, right after I met Rick Riordan and got his autograph. (For more details, please go to Picture Perfect. For a total and complete account, go to my regular blog. ^,^)

I would have been thrilled if I'd have found James Dashner's Hunt for Dark Infinity too, but, strangely, it wasn't in the store. So I couldn't buy it. Oh well. I'll get to that soon enough.

Anyway, already I've read the preface, prologue and first two chapters in the book. It is awesome! I can't give anything away, but... Well, I'll give a couple things away. Just to tease you. ^,^
  1. The prologue is called The End. (Hilarious, huh?)
  2. Most of the chapters are actually numbered this time. (Which is a good thing, because last year, whenever I recorded what books I read, I was always a stickler for writing down how many pages and chapters a book had, so I had to count myself how many chapters it had.)
  3. There are 594 pages (so close to 600!) and 45 chapters. Awesome! So much Pendragon to read!!!
Yeah, that's all I'm revealing. Nope, nothing else. Anyway, when you start reading it, right away you know it's gonna be an awesome finale to the series. Annette and I had so much fun reading together on the bus. It was like starting the final Harry Potter book. It feels so historic. ^,^ But I've got to resist. You wouldn't believe how many other books I want to read first before tackling Pendragon. But again, I own it now, so I'll be very happy to take my sweet ol' time. Like Jacoby, I'll admit that I'm reluctant to get to the end.

Even so, just reading D. J. MacHale's preface is wonderful. He writes the best prefaces, doesn't he? ^,~

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lots of book news!

Oh my gosh, do I have a lot to write about!!! I'm very sorry for the inactivity of this blog. I didn't read an awful lot in the first half of this month (I've felt a little pressured because of Mother's Day and going to New College and all private stuff in my life), but I have a feeling that the next half will be a little more novel-populated.

I've got a lot to talk about, so I'll try going as slowly as I can. First of all, this week my younger brother, Adam, borrowed, from the library (and of his own accord), the audio-book of The Magician's Nephew, from the Chronicle's of Narnia. I thought it was nice that he wants to get into C. S. Lewis's work, but what I really liked was the audio-book itself. See, I'm used to book-on-CD format, where the actual text from the book is repeated by a narrator, with that one person doing the voices of different characters and so on. But this was different. The story was the same, and there was a narrator, but there were also different voices for different characters. So somehow they did away with all the "he said" and "she saids" that are in the book, and just the way the characters talked moved the story forward. It was quite a fascinating experience listening to it that way.

Now this is where a lot of my news belongs. With yesterday. I went to Borders again... finally!... because I wanted to see if it carried Pendragon # 10. Yet, when Annette and I were dropped off there, we saw that our whole store had been reorganised! My favorite book sections had been moved to the very back of the store and at first it was hard to know where things were! I mean, it's a really weird feeling when that happens to a store you go to a lot... and like a lot. I was like, "Whoa, have I been gone that

Okay, so I looked and I'll admit that there was no Hunt for Dark Infinity or any Soldiers of Halla. That was a little disappointing. I'd have been really happy if I'd just gotten a glimpse of them or something. Did you guys know that Wikipedia already has plot spoilers on Pendragon #10? That really sucks. I do not want to look at any spoilers, but I do really want to know what happens. Raise your hand if anyone's read these two awesome-sounding books? Oops... sorry. I can't see you. (Didja do it anyway?) ^,^ Well, comment anyway if you've read either of them. But remember, no spoilers! Just tell me how you like them.

Well, to stay on the bright side of things, I at last finished reading the third Travellers book. ^,^ It was a wonder that I remembered where I'd left off. That was pretty cool how it ended. I mean, Patrick Mac's territory is the one we know the least about, since it's had the least action so far. Third Earth. It sounds really cool and safe there, but these people have it way too easy. I'd sure like to see them get a taste of Saint Dane somewhere in book 10. Again, no spoilers, people! This is just my theory. Don't ruin it. I'll find out for myself... eventually.

Okay, here's something pretty awesome. When I entered the store, even before I started looking for Pendragon or 13th Reality, I saw signs for Rick Riordan, author of the books in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, coming to that precise store on May 17th, at 1:00, for a discussion and book signing. I was quite excited when I saw the signs. Another famous author in my book-store! The only other one I've ever met there is Lemony Snicket, and I totally ruined that... well, at least in my mind. I don't want to go there... Anyway, if I can be there, it would be so cool to meet another published author!

The problem is, I'm not so enthused about this guy's books. I mean, I like them good enough. Still, I know that at these kind of events, they expect you to buy the book, so you can get it signed and stuff. I'm not altogether sure of buying his new book, The Last Olympian. Maybe I can convince him to sign a scrap of paper for me? I mean, that's all I require out of the guy. That, and maybe a picture with him... Oh, I think I'll tell you about it tomorrow. If I go, that is...

Finally, I'd like to close off with announcing that I finished a book that, for all intents and purposes, isn't really a book... yet. Yes, Graham, I'm talking about finishing Sidewinder. (Since there's no cover for your book, I put up a picture of the sidewinder snake. Appropriate, no?) I've already emailed him saying that his debut novel is awesome. I had lots of fun editing the whole thing, pointing out mistakes and giving lots of general praise. (Jacoby knows that from what I did to his Dialunra prologue.) But really, the whole thing was awesome to read. It almost felt like I was reading an actual published work. I hope Sidewinder can work it's way into bookstores in several months, so that you guys can see what a cool writer Graham is. That, or you can ask him very nicely to see it. He told me not to spread it around. ^,~

Well, that's it for me. Hmm... it's hard figuring out how many books I've actually read this month. At the very least I know that Before the War 3 counts as one, but does finishing an audio-book or a book that's not published yet count? I think it does, in my book. So anyway, see you next time. I'll probably write about the Rick Riordan signing then. If not, at the very least I'll get to write about Jane Eyre. I'm almost done with that. (Please, J.N., don't you have something to write about?)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

April Books

It looks like this month I didn't really focus on reading that much. Mostly I finished the Twilight Saga, read Flight graphic novels, and read just a few other books not that worth mentioning.

As you might've read from my reviews, I loved Twilight books 3 and 4 very, very much. I'm a little sad that I'm done with the series, but I'm glad that I still have the movies to look forward to. Flight is a really good graphic novel series. Those who love comics, manga and their ilk would enjoy these books, I think. A Supremely Bad Idea, as you may have read, wasn't that good a read for someone like me. I am almost finished with the Pendragon: Before the War trilogy, just a few more chapters of Patrick Mac's story to go. Recently I read the 1st 13th Reality book for the second time. My brother, Adam, read it for his first time. It's still a wonderful book, and I can not wait to get the 2nd book, The Hunt for Dark Infinity, in my hands. The Fire Eternal was a little weird. I'd looked forward to it for ages, but it wasn't that good. I remember liking the book before it, Firestar, very much, so I don't know where Chris D'Lacey went wrong. Worse, it ended with the hint of a need for a sequel. Too many unresolved questions. I forget when I finished the 2nd 39 Clues book, and I forgot to write a review about it, but I did read it this month, so... I no longer think the series is of interest to me. Plus in the website, I have to wait a couple months to find any more clues, because the next mission is locked until July, I think. So that sucks.

As another point of interest, I read the 500th issue of MAD magazine this month. It was very good. Here's the link to the review I wrote on it.

Jacoby, what's wrong? Why haven't you been reviewing any more books lately? I think I'm up about 44 to 1 or something. Maybe when school's out you'll have a lot more leisure time for summer reading, eh?