Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series, by Lois H. Gresh

I got this book after attending a kind of Twilight party held at my local library. Anyone from 12 to 18 years of age was free to attend. It wasn't much. There were refreshments (if you can call a cake that said "Bite Me" and punch refreshments), a raffle with small prizes (we got a Bella and Edward poster, which was neat, though we don't know where to hang it. We have two cool Harry Potter 4 posters crowding the wall ^_^) , a trivia game (the questions were ultra hard! I mean, I just read the Twilight Saga for the awesome story. These pieces of trivia were for people who studied the series backward and forward and are obsessed. For example, who remembers the name of the Biology teacher? Offhand, I do not remember), a couple of other activities (make your own bracelet, bookmark and playing chess. I didn't play chess), and a viewing of the Twilight film. It was my third time seeing it, so it wasn't that big a deal.

Needless to say, this party was pretty lame and wasn't exactly "hopping". Only about 15 kids showed up, and I'm sure my sister and I were the only 17 year olds there. I don't even have any idea why there was a Twilight party at this time, since nothing Twilight related has happened recently... not to my knowledge, anyway. Still, a couple good things came out of the event. First of all, I got to drive to the party and my sister drove us home. I think it'll be quite a while before the excitement of driving on our own wears off. ^,^ Second of all, after the raffle was done, the lady offered this book for someone to check out, anyone at all. Since no one else happened to jump immediately on this offer, I asked to borrow it. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but I enjoyed this book. (Quite obviously, because of it's subject. ^,~)

This book was published just a little after Breaking Dawn was released, so I'd guess that lots of people wanted to get a few answers about the series before settling down with the grand finale to the Saga. It also seems that the guide was largely targeted at a female teenage audience (probably because the author is a woman) so I doubt many guys would find the guide a good read. The few vampire/ werewolf/ romance quizzes don't help this fact. ^_~

Personally though, I found it a quick, entertaining, quite informative read. I picked up a bit of extra vampire knowledge and history, in real life as well as fiction. The author seemed to have done some good research on the subject, for which I commend her. If anyone out there reading this blog post is like me (a teen girl who is a huge, though not obsessive, fan of Twilight), you too will enjoy this guide.

The only thing I caught that I thought was off was that the author seemed prejudiced against werewolves. I really didn't like that, since I personally prefer Jacob just that much better to Edward. But apparently, suave, hunky, golden-eyed "Mr. Perfect boyfriend" vampire is a much hotter attraction when opposed to a sweet guy who occasionally turns into a wild, furry, blood-thirsty, beastly Hulk wolf when he gets angry. But hey, come on! Jacob is not your run of the mill werewolf! At least he's human half the time, whereas vampires are never human. And the pack mind-reading thing is pretty cool. Besides, the only thing to do with blood with Stephanie Meyer werewolves is that it's genetic. It runs in the family. Still, I'm not Bella, so I guess it doesn't really matter anyway. ~,~ I can probably argue this subject a lot more passionately if I only had someone to debate it with.

A cool thing is that this isn't the only series guide she's written. Miss Lois Gresh has also written about the Artemis Fowl series, the Spiderwick Chronicles, His Dark Materials (Golden Compass, etc.), the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, etc.), and ASOUE (A Series of Unfortunate Events). Her works also include the subjects if superheroes, supervillains, anime, Stephen King, Star Trek, and the Indiana Jones films. This lady seems to have gotten around! I think I'd much enjoy reading some of her other books.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wings, by Aprilynne Pike

Well, well, well. What a book! I'm really glad I listened to James Dashner when he recommended this brand new book. (Here's the link to that post of his. He's a good friend to Aprilynne. I can't believe that was over a month ago!) I think it's really appropriate that Stephanie Meyer put a blurb on this debut novel, because it's reminded me so much of the Twilight saga. I liked everything about this book and I consider myself lucky that I was able to read it so soon after it came out.

The main character is a 15-year-old girl named Laurel (interesting name for a girl. Unfortunately it makes me think of that old comedy team Laurel and Hardy. Ever heard of them?). I really liked her. Even though it was written in third person and she was a couple years younger than Bella, Laurel managed to make me believe I was in her place while I read her story. Like me, she chooses to eat healthy, just fruits and vegetables. A strict vegan. (I'm not all that strict, but she is.) Also like me, she was home schooled by her parents. Up until the story starts, of course, when she's forced to go to school for the first time. The only different thing is that she was adopted, so I can't really relate to that.

I think if I was 15 again and going to public school, I'd probably have much the same thoughts and experiences as Laurel did. I like how it begins. Immediately she makes friends with a boy named David, who is really a great guy! I was so jealous of her, because this character is one of those guys that are so hard to find in life. He's honestly one of the best supporting male characters I've ever read about. And as a plus, he's human, so there's nothing dangerous about him. ^,~ *coughCullencough*

6 chapters later, Laurel grows something weird out of her back. At first it's like a pimple or a mole of sorts, but it grows bigger and bigger until it... well... "blossoms." She actually grows a flower out of her back! This is where she finds out she's a faerie. I think it could have happened sooner, but I'm not complaining. So to get answers, she goes back to her old neighborhood (sorry, I forgot. She had to move in order to attend school) and in the forest meets a faerie boy named Tamani. He tells her all this stuff, and somehow, I don't know how, it appears they hit it off. So like Twilight, Laurel's trapped in a love triangle, and my money is on the human. I like him better. (Of course, in Twilight the human is also part wolf, but still...)

So David is the only human that Laurel talks to about her flower, and they discover through various experiments that Laurel isn't exactly human, but actually some sort of hybrid plant. Yeah, totally weird. Faeries are intelligent, mobile, humanoid plants that can perform some magic. All I can say for Aprilynne Pike is that she was completely original.

In the middle of the book, the flower wilts away by itself, so that's a shame. But then these trolls are introduced, who play the role of bad guys. They're trying to buy the land that Laurel and her family moved away from, but the faeries can't let that happen, so Laurel has to help stop them. It's funny. Just like Twilight, it was mostly about setting up the romance part first, and then there was action nearer the end.

Honestly, this book is not to be skipped over. It will totally be worth your reading time. The problem is that it's very hard to tell whether a sequel will come of this or not. I'm not expecting anything. It does well as a standalone novel, I suppose, but I pray that Pike is busily thinking about her next installment. (BTW, here is someone else's opinion on Wings. You can bet that it's a lot shorter than my review, but it also gives this book a lot of praise.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flight # 5

Man, this Flight series is awesome. The comic stories are funny and cool. Short and simple. My favorite cartoon is the "Rex saga," the one that usually comes up first and keeps continuing? It's been in the Flight series since #2 and it's about this little brown fox character who looks so sweet and has all these strange adventures on this alien planet. There's no dialogue, so the faces say it all. Very cute.

The only too bad thing was that before I finally got the book, I cheated and got a preview of each cartoon in the book from online. The Flight website. Yeah. So I already knew about half of every story. Still, it was nice to see how they ended. But that's a good lesson for me. No cheating if you want full enoyment from a story.

You guys have got to check out this series. Especially if you're comic lovers. They've got all different types of styles of art. I think there's going to be a sixth one sometime soon in the future. I promise not to get a preview of that, so I'll be completely surprised.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jonathan's Journey to Mount Miapu, by Ellen Wolfson Valladares

This was an interesting book recommended by one of my mom's friends. In the beginning I thought the writing was iffy, that the language was simplified and stuff, but I pressed on and came to enjoy the story. What I liked best was that the main character lived in Florida, and that the author apparently lives right in Weston, my city! I've never heard of her, but that's pretty awesome.

It's about this young boy, Jonathan, who at 10 years old is still freaked out scared of the dark. So one day he's playing baseball with his friends and the ball rolls into this large drain pipe, so he has to go get it, but these two bullies block up the pipe with a boulder or something, so he's trapped in darkness. At first it's horrible, but then he sees a light coming from the other end, so he goes there and comes out into this magical, perfect wild paradise called Mount Miapu.

I know, I know. The way it just happened was really weird and highly unlikely, so it kind of unsettled me. Anyway, Jonathan tries his best to find his way home, but his journey evolves into this spiritual adventure where he learns lots of personal lessons, such as trusting others and believing in himself and conquering his fears and all that muck. (I dislike blatantly obvious morals.) Oh, and how convenient that time moved much slower on Mount Miapu than on Earth, so when he finally arrives back in his town in Florida, his parents didn't even really miss him.

I thought it strange that not a lot of horrible stuff happened to Jonathan. I mean, every meal he ate was perfect and delicious (everyone only ate fruits and vegetable dishes, because they love the animals, which are very friendly towards the people), he rarely got hurt, and everyone he meets is so nice to him and help him tremendously. Except for this talking tiger, Seebolt, who represents the evil darkness that is taking over Miapu, which Jonathan must eventually save.

Though a large part of this novel was too idyllic for my taste, I did my best to enjoy the book. I think it gave me good ideas for how my Imazia story can go. I believe this will be a series somehow, because it hinted that Jonathan is a kid who can go to different dimensions/ realities/ worlds besides Mount Miapu that might need saving. (Reminds me of 13th Reality, though there's absolutely no contest between the two. Dashner rocks!) One of the characters, Cornelius, an old, wizened teacher who assists Jonathan the most, was way remeniscent of Proffesor Dumbledore.

I'm not sure if people who share my taste in books would be as patient as I was with this story, though I'd like to say that, despite all my quibbles and critiques, I wasn't sorry I read it. At least, I don't think I am. Meh. ~,~

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Holes, by Louis Sachar

It didn't take me long at all to read this book. My brother is actually reading this, but I felt bored, so I picked it up. The chapters are so breezy and short, just a page or two on average. Louis Sachar is a good author. I remember loving his Wayside School Stories when I was in elementary school. I've read Holes before, but it's still good the second time around.

I believe the first time I read it was a little before I saw the movie. I can hardly believe that was several years ago already. Shia LaBeouf was really good in that. The movie was very faithful to the book. All the characters and interconnected stories... just awesome. The only thing I totally forgot was that in the book, the main character, Stanley Yelnats (or Caveman as his friends later call him) is described as a bit overweight, but Shia LaBeouf was obviously not fat. I don't know why that little detail was important. I suppose in the book he was fat because then it would make it that much easier to dig his holes. Putting weight on the shovel...

Other than that though, I loved how close the film and the novel were. Of course, the movie was produced by Walden Media, which, in my opinion, does the best job ever when it comes to adapting awesome books to the silver screen as faithfully as possible.

It's kind of funny... I read this while I was at the beach today and for a while I was reading out in the hot sun. So I'm reading how Stanley and the other boys have to dig these holes all day in the desert, with little water, and I'm reading and feeling really hot, so I could relate to them even closer. (Even though my situation was totally different. They were hot, but physically had to work really hard. I was hot, but I was lazing around and reading about it. Still... ^,^) Don't worry, I didn't get burned.

I liked it when I found out that Sachar wrote a sequel to Holes. It's called Small Steps. Instead of concentrating on Caveman or Zero though, the story follows the life of Armpit. Pretty good story. Since this book was made into a movie, I'll follow my tradition and attach a trailer of the film Holes to this review, though I'm betting a lot of you have already heard of it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Persepolis 2

This book was the sequel to the first Persepolis, which I've already expressed enjoyment reading. I think I liked reading this book better, because it picks up from when the Iranian girl is 14 and goes through her adolescence in Austria. She travels a lot and gets real world experience and grows into a sensible adult. She also gets into a couple heavy romances and after one particularly bad breakup she goes back to her family in Iran and later meets another guy and gets married, only she finds that she dislikes married life and they divorce.

I wouldn't recommend this book to a lot of people, but I personally enjoyed this serious, yet quite witty, coming of age story. Graphic novels are really fun to read. I liked how in this story, the main character, Marjane, grows up and develops a beauty mark on her nose, so you always know which girl is her in each panel, even though she might be wearing a veil or be in a large crowd. That's a pretty important thing to remember in a good picture story.

Happily I've been writing a lot in my story, like I promised myself, but I hope I can review a lot more books soon. When is Flight #5 or Wings or something going to come in from the library?!