Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reincarnation, by Suzanne Weyn

Well, it seems that I caved and read this whole book quickly, even though I promised myself I'd take it slower than I usually take books like this. But it was incredible, I tell you. What else would I expect from the "Treasure Trove?" ^_^ Suzanne Weyn... what a story-teller she is! Besides the awesome story and characters, I was astonished by the way she came up with all the words to describe everything, because you just want to keep the pages turning. The worlds that she created seemed so real, and I liked how the chapters were all organized.

It's kind of more like a collection of stories, because all the characters and settings are completely different, but there is something that connects everything and keeps one central plot. To get the book, you have to believe that reincarnation is real, i.e., when people die they are born again and live new lives, but an unconscious part of them has some memories of past lives that plays a part in their present life. That is what happens here, to all the characters. From the days of cavemen, or prehistory, to ancient Egypt and Greece in years ending in BC, to Massachusetts witch trials and Civil War battlefields, all the way to the present day. It's just the same characters playing over and over again, but in a slightly new way every time.

Every story has a few things in common. There's of course the romantic interest, a boy and girl who share true love and are destined for each other. Then there's the guy who wants to marry the girl, but he can never have her because he's a big jerk. Also there's a scheming girl who loves Jerk guy and doesn't see why Lover girl doesn't like him. Schemer girl could settle with Lover boy, and she tries that, but it never works out. Emeralds play a big part in each reincarnation, since in the very beginning Lover girl and Lover boy fought over a big green rock and wanted it for themselves. You know, because early humans loved shiny things.

With each new story, it was fascinating for me to spot each reference to a past life that the characters carried on in their next life, like an innate skill or a weird handicap, and somehow each character's situation in life seemed the same. It's pretty mind-blowing, because no matter who they are, the two lovers keep meeting up with each other and they have no idea why they feel so comfortable with each other, but pictures keep coming into their mind about how they loved each other in past lives, and they just... recognize each other. Crazy, I know. Circumstances keep forcing them apart, but in the very end they get together and are finally assured that nothing can separate them.

Sorry if this review was all vague and confusing, but I don't know how else to share it. Names aren't important, and there's really no point in going over every single story in each time. There are so many connections and coincidences that it's all one big sticky web. But just trust me on this one. Reincarnation is awesome! I have no doubt that Suzanne Weyn's other books are just as good as this, and I can't wait to read them. I probably need to take a little break after this healthy dose of fiction, though. I want to be as good an author as Weyn is, so I need to get to work.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dean and Me, by Jerry Lewis

Well, this was definitely an awesome read. I learned so much from it, so I'm glad I listened to Annette when she recommended it to me. It's not what I usually read, but the story was amazing. These two guys, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, are one of my favorite comedy teams of old, and now that I've read the story behind their beginnings and successes, I respect them all the more. I think everyone should read their story.

Okay, who am I talking about here? Who are these guys, Jerry and Dean? Well, Jerry Lewis is pretty much the king of comedy. He's been in scores of funny movies that he also usually directs and writes, including "Rock-a-Bye Baby," "The Nutty Professor," and "The Disorderly Orderly," and so many more. Those are just some of my favorites. Jerry is one of the comedians my younger brother, Adam, idolizes. His face is made of rubber, he talks like a little kid, and nearly everything he does makes you want to laugh. Dean Martin is also a really funny guy. He was in many movies himself, though I haven't seen many of those. He's more famous for starring in "The Dean Martin Variety Show," which was full of hilarious skits and guest stars, and for being a prominent member of the Rat Pack, a group of handsome crooners that also included Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr, among others.

Jerry wrote this book (Dean was dead by then), so it was all from his point of view. It tells of how he and Dean became such close partners in comedy. They made the perfect team. Dean Martin was the handsome crooner, the straight man, but he still had a very sharp sense of humor. Jerry Lewis was the crazy guy, the monkey, the one who made funny faces and pratfalls. He was like a little kid, and Dean was the older brother he never had. And boy, when these two got together, they caused pandemonium. Everyone loved them! What seemed to separate this comedy team from all the others is that these guys were so spontaneous, they were ready for anything. No matter what the other one did, none of them ever missed a beat. And they loved what they did, which was go on a stage and make people laugh.

I learned so many things about Martin and Lewis in this book. For example, when the two of them met for the first time in 1945, Dean was about 28 and Jerry was only 19. 19 years old! I couldn't believe it... plus Jerry was already married and had a kid on the way! Such a young guy. Anyway, these guys became really close friends and they did shows, movies and all kinds of events together. Man, Jerry told such awesome stories about Dean and his speedy rise to fame.

Unfortunately, their partnership couldn't last forever. When they got reviewed in the newspapers, most of what was written was about how funny Jerry was, with Dean rarely getting any credit. In later years there was a lot of tension between them. They broke up after 10 years in 1956 and never really saw each other after that. They lived their own lives and became super famous in their own right, as I mentioned near the beginning. It's really a touching collection of stories and memories that is in this book. Everyone should know this team's tale, even if they've never hear of Martin or Lewis before. You'll laugh and think about life in showbiz several decades ago, and then when you get curious enough to find out who these guys really are, they have a ton of movies (17 of them!) and collections of their TV shows, plus there's any number of clips you can see of them on YouTube.

Here is a clip I found that demonstrates Dean and Jerry's partnership perfectly. You'll love these guys. ^_^

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book News #3

Since I went to the library yesterday, I thought it would be a good time to post some more book news. We checked out a ton of DVDs, but also plenty of books. Before I get into that, I want to say that since The Compound, I've kind of decided to give reading fiction a bit of a break, and I'll be reviewing more non-fiction type books.

Currently I'm reading Dean and Me, which is a biography that Jerry Lewis, one of my favorite comedians, wrote about his years working with his straight man partner, Dean Martin, before they broke up. I'm pretty much halfway through, and it's really great so far. My sister and dad said I just had to read this as soon as I was done with all my fantasy reads, so I did. You won't have to wait too long for a review of this. ^_^

Once again in a library visit, I tackled a graphic novel in one sitting. It was the second Alex Rider book, and I think it's amazing that I was able to find it so soon after the first one! I wonder if I'll be so lucky to find the third graphic novel... I kind of doubt it. But anyway, this book was just as exciting as the one before it. It was very fun to pass my time in the library reading through Alex's adventure. It was interesting to me when he got his hair cut for the mission. He looked so different! But cool. The villain was really creepy, you just hate him. So weird how he cloned himself... the ending is quite a twist too.

Okay, now I'll get to the books we checked out that I'm very likely going to read in the near future. After the Martin & Lewis book, I'm not sure what I'll read. Annette has other non-fiction books recommended for me that I want to get to, but she decided to check this book out for herself. Since she and I have developed semi-different reading tastes, I don't know how she picks books. Random, I guess. =P Well, it's called Send, and it seems to be all about the subject of emailing, which I think is very interesting. Who knows? Maybe I'll get to it next.

Okay, now this book was NOT checked out for a bit of light reading. In fact, it's quite serious. It's a how-to book on how to use the computer program Macromedia Dreamweaver 8. All part of Annette and my digital education. We've gone through these type of books before, for learning Flash or Photoshop or how to write PHP code. We think of it like a 90-day college course. I'm not sure when this class will start for us, but if I happen to pick up some really cool tips from it, I'll try to share them with you. Or I'll just give a status update of how far we are into it.

This last book I checked out for myself. I've had my eye on it for a while on what I call the "Treasure Trove shelf". I probably won't get to it for a long time, but it makes me feel good just to have this kind of book nearby. I'll try to make this one last. Reincarnation, by Suzanne Weyn. I've never heard of her, but she seems to have written a couple interesting books. This opinion is purely based on the synopses on the inside covers, you understand. From what I gather, this one seems to be about a boy and a girl who keep running into each other through reincarnation. They never recognize each other in their different lives, but they feel the same strange attraction. I don't know anything beyond that, but I have a strong feeling that this one will be a keeper. ^_^

Before I wrap this book news post up, I'd like to add that I am also currently reading a manuscript that my awesome friend Graham Bradley is letting me read and critique, Ghost Machines. I've read a couple other of his books, which were simply awesome, and I do believe he has a non-fiction book that is in the process of being published. ^_^ So lucky of him! Anyway, I haven't gotten that far, just 3 or so chapters, but I still think it's quite good. I only read it in my spare time though, so I don't know how quickly I'll finish it. I'll definitely be sure to let Graham know as soon as I do! ^_~

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Compound, by S. A. Bodeen

Wow. Okay, this was one eye-opener of a book. Recommended to me by Dave and the Lateiner Gang (here's their review of it), I read through it very quickly, just in a matter of 2 days, and I loved every page of it. The story was so intense! It was one of those novels that absolutely sucked you in and wouldn't let you go until you were done, even when you took a break from reading it. All I wanted to do was find out what happened next!

Basically it's about a rich family who goes underground as soon as a nuclear bomb apparently strikes, and they hide in a luxurious Compound that the billionaire father designed. The only problem is that the Grandma and the main character's twin brother, Eddy, weren't able to get through in time, so the rest of the family is devastated. ~,~

The Compound is set not to open for 15 years, so Dad, Mom, Lexie, Terese and our main character Eli all have to make the best of their living conditions. There are many rooms, and enough supplies to last them the whole time. But after 6 long years of routine and simply surviving, 15 year old Eli does something that breaks his routine. He looks into the room intended for his perished twin, and finds a laptop computer that has an icon for the internet. He tries to keep it a secret, but later he discovers that when he goes near his dad's office, an internet signal picks up, and he has an IM conversation with someone who is logged in with Eddy's old username. Dad takes the laptop away after this, but Eli's mind is still blown. What other secrets could his father be keeping from him and his family?

This is pretty much the plot of the story. I don't think I should reveal any more, because the rest of it is too good. For example, as Dave pointed out, there is a mysterious "yellow room" in which the purpose is at first completely morbid and revolting to Eli. At first, I was shocked at the thought as well. It really turns ethics on it's head. But once inside, he discovers that the room's inhabitants are wonderful and worth protecting, deserving of as much love as his family. He knows that he absolutely must get everyone out of the Compound and learn the truth, before it's too late. I hope this brief synopsis has aroused your curiosity, because this is one book that deserves a read.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde

I've got to say, even though I haven't read a Jasper Fforde book in at least 2 years, I was able to pick up on his style once again, and I very well believe that this was the best novel I've read this month! Most of it is really world-building, but it was really incredible. Amazing how this all came from one person's imagination.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world of some sort, probably over 500 years ahead of today, or Something That Happened. In this world, all the people have, for some reason, evolved so that they're mostly colorblind except for one color. So whatever a person could see reflected their social rank. It's all a rather complicated government with rules for everything, and all centered around color. What job you can do, who you can marry, acceptable behavior. Everything runs on merits and feedback. If you get too many demerits and negative feedback, it means you're up for Reboot, which will set you apparently right. At twenty years of age, a citizen takes a test to see what color he can see, and his life is mapped out after that. Besides the people who can see color, there are a lot of people who don't, so they're referred to as Greys, who are lowest in the social hierarchy.

It's really hard to explain what happens in the story, but there were lots of things I liked about it. An entertaining aspect of this world is that everyone has a color for a last name, representing what color they can see, like our hero Eddie Russet. He's the son of a Swatchman, who is like a doctor in that world, only instead of giving people medicine, he shows them a certain shade of color and they get better. The places are also named after colors, it seems, such as East Carmine, Vermillion, and High Saffron. Another important thing is that night is a total mystery to people. Since everyone can see very little color, at night no one can see anything. Also, certain trees evolved so that they've become carnivorous. 0,o

By making the acquaintance of a feisty Grey named Jane, Eddie starts to question the ways of his world and wonder what exactly happened that led to the Something That happened. He does his best to solve the uncountable mysteries that start to pile up on him, but being curious makes one stand out, so he needs to be really careful about the sort of questions he asks people. Like I said, most of the book is dedicated to building up this world, but somewhere in the second half the story picked up, and then I couldn't turn the pages fast enough! Trust me, the ending is completely explosive, blows your mind. ^_^

The great thing is that at the end of the book it promises that a sequel and a sequel after that will be written very soon, so that means Jasper Fforde means this to be a trilogy. I absolutely can't wait until the next book comes out.

In the meantime, I'd like to add that I've started reading one of Fforde's other books, The Big Over Easy, to my brother Adam. So far he really likes it, which is quite awesome because the first time I tried reading it to him, he thought it was boring. But now that he's older, he can appreciate the humor and style of it. It's quite fun to read aloud. It'll probably take a long time, but I'll let you know if/when we finish this book.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Some Graphic Novels I've read

I love graphic novels, but usually I read them so fast and in one sitting, in the library or in the bookstore, that I doubt whether or not they should count in my book count or not. Well, last night I read a really cool graphic novel, so I decided that now would be as good a time as any to bring up some of the books I've read this year that I neglected to review.

First, there is Zot. I read this in my Borders, on the first Friday of the year, I believe. Well, it was a Friday. Anyway, I was attracted to the book right away, because of it's author, Scott McCloud. This guy has written a bunch of other books: Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics. And guess what? All those books are written in a comic format! It's really cool to be learning about comics as you're reading them. So I read all of these a couple years ago, and when I saw this book, I quickly picked it up and read as much as I could before we had to leave. I couldn't finish it, unfortunately (I'll have to wait until we go back to Borders again), but here's what I picked up.

Zot is about 2 worlds. There's our Earth, where teenage girl Jenny (I think that's her name) lives, and then there's an alternate Earth, where there are flying cars and robots and world peace, where the boy nicknamed Zot lives. Even if he lives in an idyllic reality though, Zot's world has supervillains, and he's the hero who saves the day with his rocket boots and gadgets and boundless optimism. He never loses on his world. At the beginning of the book, I immediately think I'm missing something, because it's from Jenny's point of view, and it seemed as if they were already tentative boyfriend girlfriend, and she knew about his world, but she was missing him because he hadn't shown up for a while. But I kind of got up to speed, and there's cool saving the world fights, and Zot kind of realizes that on our Earth, he doesn't always win and stop the bad guy. Like I said, I'd have to read more to find out what happens, but I'm definitely going to pick this book up next chance I get.

It was probably sometime last week when I read this book, Dead High Yearbook. It was at the library, and I read it all in one shot. This graphic novel was... okay. Not something I'd rave about or recommend to everybody, but the stories were kind of good, and I really liked the artwork. See, I wouldn't be reading any graphic novel if I didn't like the look of it's artwork. This actually seemed to be a bunch of different styles, because it was by different artists. It was a collection of stories about the supernatural deaths of some high school students. It reminded me a little of the Twilight Zone or something. I wonder if there will be any other books like this in the future. I think it hinted at the end that there were more, but maybe those stories won't be told. I don't know. I don't need to get my hopes up.

Finally, the last book I want to talk about. I read this, too, at the library, in just one sitting. The art attracted me immediately, plus I remembered that a friend had once recommended the series to me. (Thanks Rainy! ^_~) It was a graphic novel adaptation of Alex Rider, Stormbreaker. Really a cool story. It takes place in England, and it's about this teen boy named Alex Rider, whose uncle is a secret agent, but Alex doesn't know it. One day the uncle is killed, and Alex finds out that all his life he's been trained to one day take his uncle's place. It's funny, because the first thing he says when he discovers the spy headquarters is, "Is this Hogwarts?" He gets all these gadgets and, predictably, uses them all in the course of the story to defeat the villain and his evil plot to take over the world.

In graphic novel form, I thought the story was really entertaining and funny. It was like when I read the graphic novel to the first Pendragon book, and found that I loved the series! Later I discovered that there are a couple graphic novels that come after this one, so I might find these and go through the first 3 books in the series that way. I don't know if I want to read the actual books. I might, but I won't count on it. There is also a movie of Stormbreaker, which I've posted a trailer to, but I'm really hesitant to watch it. Since it was a graphic novel, it was fun to notice all the scenes I'd read about when I saw them in the preview, but I've heard that the film actually isn't that good. It's a little too cartoony, and the believability of it flies out the window. It's an awesome story in book form, though not in a live action movie.

I'll try to be a lot better at reviewing the graphic novels I read in the future! I promise.
Coming up next, very soon: Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Graham-Smith

Man, what a book. I haven't read too many classics in my life, though I have seen movie adaptations of the classics. I've seen David Copperfield, Sense and Sensibilities, and Pride and Prejudice, all very good stories (with more than a few stars in each to tempt us). Pride and Prejudice I saw quite recently, and I thought reading the book would be pretty cool, since I read Jane Eyre last year and hadn't fallen asleep in the middle of it. Then I remembered a book I'd seen on a shelf at Borders once or twice. Yes, the thought was creepy, but I reserved it from the library anyway, willing to give it a go.

Well, here's my verdict: I loved it. ^_^ It's really just the original text of Jane Austen's book with zombies and zombie warriors mixed into the plot. The main character, Elizabeth Bennet, and all her sisters were trained by their father in the ways of fighting and killing so they could battle the unusual plague that has been around for more than 55 years already. That zombies are dealt with so calmly and matter of factly is strange, as if it's a fact of life. Like, say you're at a nice ball and suddenly zombies break through the window and decide to attack. Well, the 5 Bennet sisters will simply jump and kill them all off, and the evening will continue as normal. Weird. Same thing if you're traveling by coach or something. Zombies can pop up from anywhere. It just makes the story more exciting and entertaining.

Anyway, the central plot is much the same, for anyone who knows the story. The characters have the same personalities as I observed in the movie, only some of them are zombie warriors, either trained by the Chinese or Japanese masters. It's a whole complicated love story, but like Jane Eyre, Elizabeth is a confident, strong-willed female who I can totally relate to. And the fact that she can also take down a horde of zombies is a plus. From the look of things, if you come from the point of view of the author, it seems as if this story was begging to have zombies thrown into it. Boy, I never thought I'd write a post that had the word "zombie" splattered all over it. =P To make a long story short, if you want to read a classic but are reluctant to pick it up, check this book out. It's got the language of an old book, but is as entertaining as anything written in this century.

Meeting Jasper Fforde

Well, a couple days later than I said I would post it, here is my story about me meeting one of my big heroes, Jasper Fforde. (There he is, right there! ^_^)

I'll start at the beginning. At first I counted on just Annette and me going alone to this event, since we'd both read all his books and were probably the only ones who cared about this guy. About a week before it came, my mom Shira showed some interest in it, but she was torn between coming with us and going to her women's circle with her friends. The night before though, I believe the leader of the group got sick, so Shira didn't have to go there after all, and she could come chaperon us. That was cool.

By the time the day arrived, the 14th, the Fforde book I'd ordered on Amazon had not come in yet (The Big Over-Easy for just 80 cents instead of buyingShades of Grey at the store for over $25). (The funny thing is that it didcome in today!) So I didn't have a book for Jasper to sign his autograph for me with. But I figured if I just brought my small notebook with me, he'd understand and sign for me anyway. I just hoped the people at the bookstore wouldn't stop me. It's kind of been my experience, when I've gone to Borders events in the past, that youmust buy the book that's being promoted or other books by the author, though I've easily gotten away with not doing that. I still wanted to do the right thing this time around though, but I didn't know what to expect, because it was a bookstore I've never been to before.

So we get there pretty easy a little after 7:00, and we find the event, only it wasn't what we expected at all. There were 3 authors sitting at a table and talking to people, and I didn't recognize any of them. An old guy said some pretty good stuff, but since he wasn't Jasper Fforde I didn't pay much attention. Later I discovered that this "old guy" was Richard Peck, and that name seemed to ring a bell for some reason. Today I found out that I'd actually read one of his books without knowing it. Invitations to the World. Well, it was a non-fiction book, so how was I supposed to know him? =P Anyway, they signed books too, but we didn't get their autographs. We asked the front desk if this was the place where Jasper Fforde would come. They said he was, but that event started at 8:00, not 7:00! I'd checked the wrong time. 0,o Oh well, at least we were extremely early. I was even able to get a front row seat. ^__^

So finally Jasper Fforde arrived, and he was just as I'd pictured him. ^_^ He seemed a little nervous at the podium (since I'm in Toastmasters, this was very obvious to me, but I secretly commended him for being up there at all), but he still made fabulous jokes and talked about his book and made everyone genuinely like him. What a sense of humor. He's a British author making a special tour through America for this book, and he claimed that he hadn't been to Miami since he was 4, so it was amazing to just be there with him. My mom took the Flip camera and actually took an almost 15 minute long movie of him talking. (What would we have done without her? ^_^) Then Annette took short movies of me asking Fforde a couple questions, followed by his answers. I was soooo proud of myself. At first I was nervous to ask him anything, but he was such a cool guy and took my questions seriously.

Finally he sat down to do the signing. I got a great spot in line, about 5th or 7th. The closest I've ever gotten to being first in line for something, I believe. Again I was nervous, wondering what would happen now. But my turn came and I briefly explained how I'd ordered his book but it hadn't arrived, so could he do me the honor of signing a paper out of my small notebook? Of course, he did it, and he also even signed a postcard that he'd been giving everybody as bookmarks, so I actually have two autographs of Jasper Fforde. Yay!

Looking back at this evening, I kind of remember that Mr. Fforde had a face and voice that reminded me strongly of Hugh Grant, but he had the charm and personality that I imagine James Dashner to have. I can't wait to meet him, but as of now I think this was the best and most memorable author meeting I've ever had.

(One funny thing more I'd like to add is that I still like this guy, even though I haven't read his books in at least 1 or 2 years! =P I forget most of the plots and particulars of each, but I remembered really liking them. And now I've started to read Shades of Grey, I'm a few chapters in, and I think it's his best book yet so far!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book news #2

I figure it's about time for another Book News post.

The book I'm currently reading is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is quite the fascinating read so far! What a spin on an old classic! ^_^ I'll give a much fuller review when I'm through with it.

I decided that I wouldn't read Leviathan in the end, so I returned it to the library. The first couple chapters just didn't hold enough interest me. I guess I'm not the "steampunk" type.

The books I now have waiting to be read on my shelf are Compound and Shades of Grey, which I actually picked up from the library yesterday! I can hardly believe that this is circulating in the library just weeks after it got published, and I can read it without buying a copy at the signing event tonight! Speaking of which...

You don't know how excited I am to meet this guy! He'll be the first British author I've ever met, the third famous author I've been in the same room with, and hopefully the fifth author to give me his autograph. ^_^ I'm a little worried about the last part, though. Instead of buying his brand-new book to get his signature (I try to avoid buying books as much as possible, and plus I already have a copy to read), I ordered his first Nursery Crime book, The Big Over-Easy, on Amazon for only 80 cents (plus shipping and handling) for him to write in. It hasn't arrived yet, so I won't be able to use it.

What can I do?! In my experience, people who run this type event say you must have a book ready for him to sign, preferably a book you bought in the store. How typical. It's like theaters telling you not to bring any munchies from the outside, but offer you butter-drenched popcorn and candy at the concession stand. We work our way around that one, though, so maybe I'll be able to get away with Mr. Fforde signing a scrap of paper for me. That's all I really want, anyway. I collect the autographs. Of course, I'll bring some money just in case I'm forced to buy a book.

See you later either tonight or tomorrow for more updates!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

House of Many Ways, by Dianna Wynne Jones

This book I took out because it was a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle. (Well, actually there's a sequel that came before this one, but it didn't have much to do with the original characters. This one did.) Even though I hadn't thoroughly enjoyed the original (see my review here), I decided I'd give this one a try anyway. I have to admit that this book was a tremendous improvement to it's predecessor. ^_^

The story is about a girl named Charmain who's only pleasure is reading, and somehow she's forced to housesit for a sick Great-Uncle, who is actually a wizard. His house is quite unusual. At first glance it would seem like the house only had a kitchen and a living room, but if you go through a door and immediately turn left, it takes you to the bathroom and bedrooms. There's also a sweet little white dog that the Uncle left behind, called Waif, who likes to eat a lot. Eventually Charmain is joined by a boy named Peter, who was supposed to be her uncle's apprentice before he got sick. So they're stuck together and take care of the house. Peter is a big help, since Charmain knows next to nothing about doing dishes and laundry and other boring chores. Still, for some reason she finds him annoying.

In the middle of taking care of her Uncle's magic house, Charmain becomes assistant librarian to the King, so she plays a part in solving a mystery that Sophie (remember her from the first book?) is trying to solve, along with her friend Calcifer the fire demon, her husband Howl, although he's disguised himself as an adorable young boy with a horrible lisp named Twinkle (no idea why 0,o) and their 2 year old son Morgan, who I think is something of a brat. I'd rather not reveal what that mystery is, since it would take too long to tell.

If this book was made into a movie, I wouldn't mind at all. The characters are lively with full personalities, and the adventures that Charmain had quite held my interest. I liked how Charmain could sort of do magic, like Sophie found she could in the first book. And the ending panned out a TON better than Howl's Moving Castle. Sure, it was just as much a happily-ever-after as before, but at least everything made sense and all the ends were neatly tied up. If you could get any enjoyment out of this series, I'd say watch the Hayao Miyazaki film of "Howl's Moving Castle," and then read this book.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Teen Inc, by Stefan Petrucha

I may have said in my book news post that I would read the Howl's Moving Castle sequel, but I decided that I would actually give that series a break and read this book, since I figured it would be a much quicker read. And it was! I read it in just one day!

I reserved this book from the library solely because I liked the last book I read by the author, The Rule of Won, which I reviewed last month. My instinct turned out to be right. ^_^ Really a funny and smart book, the kind I can appreciate. There aren't any fantasy elements in it, so this world is similar to our own. Therefore the characters are easy to relate to.

The thing that gets you to pick up the book in the first place is that it's a story about the first kid ever to be raised by a corporation. Yep. Weird, huh? The kid, Jaiden's, parents worked for the corporation, NECorp, but they died in some sort of accident, so NECorp decided to adopt Jaiden. I know about the expression "it takes a village to raise a child" (which I've never understood in any case) but it's pretty funny to exchange village for corporation.

Anyway, even with more than 2 parents raising him, Jaiden turns out to be a well-grounded kind of guy. I'm not sure if everybody in the company loves him like a parent should, but they take care of him at least, and near the end you can pretty much pick out the characters who really act like parents should. So the main plot is that Jaiden keeps it a secret of how he was raised, and he tries to win the girl of his dreams, even when his romantic interest tells him NECorp is poisoning the waters with mercury somehow (really bad). He tries finding out whether this is the truth and, I guess for the first time ever, rebels against his "parents". The villain in this story was pretty good here, and there's an unpredictable twist that reveals his identity. Well, I didn't see it coming.

Even though the part near the end kind of worked like a movie (in fact, Jaiden and his friends are actually aware that it's like they're in a movie, only it's real life. Ha, yeah right), I think the book wrapped up really nicely. Stefan Petrucha's books are alright. ^_^ I seriously recommend taking his books out. Either the ones I read, or any more you can find, because he's good.

Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

I actually finished reading this late last night. Naturally, I was too tired to write a review, but from now on I'm going to do my best to, once I turn the last page of a given book, write a review immediately. I have to do what I can to fight my procrastinative nature (not sure that's a word, but whatever).

My reason for picking this book up is that I absolutely loved the animated film version, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. (I embedded a trailer at the bottom. Although the book wasn't bad, I think I would have been better off if I hadn't seen the movie beforehand, because I kept thinking of how awesome that story was, and the book just couldn't live up to it. ~,~

The book and the movie couldn't have been more different. Well, at least the beginning answered a lot of back-story questions I had while watching the movie. But everything that follows Sophie (the girl cursed with old age) entering and becoming a part of Howl's castle was absolutely nothing like I expected would happen. There are a couple added characters and scenes in the plot, and nearer the end I believe it became almost episodic. Like the Time Quake, the conclusion only came in the last chapter, and it was much too quick and happy to be entirely satisfying.

So my advice is to not necessarily read the book at all and just check out the movie, because that is truly awesome, engaging and rewarding story. However, if you're honestly curious and want to give the book a try (it isn't all that bad, after all), I suggest reading the story before you view it, because then you can appreciate how much better the movie is. This is rather than experiencing it the way I did, having the movie in my mind and getting let down by the book.

Posting this review has made me realize that I've forgotten to embed trailers of movies based on books I've read in a few reviews. I'm going to fix that now...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book news #1

Okay, this isn't a book review, but since it's around the beginning of the month I thought I'd share about certain book news. I don't know if anyone will be interested in it, but this is really more for me than for other people.

Right now I'm reading Howl's Moving Castle. I'm almost finished with it, so you'll get a review of it probably in the next day or 2. Anyone more familiar with the Hayao Miyazaki film adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle? So far I'm liking the movie slightly better, but the book is quite good too. You'll hear more of my opinion when I actually finish it.

Down below are the library books I currently have on my shelf that will eventually be read and reviewed, most probably in right-to-left order. I hope I like them.

House of Many Ways is a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle that was published very recently (mid-2008), so I want to read that first. Teen, Inc. is another book by Stefan Petrucha, who wrote Rule of Won, which I read last month (see review). I'll follow with that, since it has the least pages. I've heard a lot of things about Leviathan. I'm going to read this next, but kind of because Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is due later. Ha ha. That should be an interesting read. I've seen a movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, one that had Kiera Knightley as the main character. I wonder what that story will be like with zombies thrown into the mix...

I see that on the website for my library, I have a new book ready for me to pick up, Compound, by S. A. Bodeen . It was recommended to me by the Lateiner Gang (see their review). From what Dave and family say about it, I can't wait to check that one out. ^_~

Oh, now here's something that's really awesome. You'll love this. The other day, when my mom took me to Borders to hang out, I noticed this book. Not only did it catch my eye with the wild cover art. The first thing I saw was the author's name, Jasper Fforde. I really like this guy's works. He's written some pretty great book series, like Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes. This book, Shades of Grey, seems to be a standalone novel though, and it literally just came out! Amazon says it was published December 29th of 2009, the year that we said goodbye to not so long ago. Haha. ^_^

But that's not the good part yet. I decided to research this book a little, and I found that the book already has it's own website. See? On it, I discovered that the author, Mr. Fforde, is going to be on tour in the USA, so I took a look at the schedule to see if Florida was anywhere on it. Well... IT IS!!! He's coming on January 14th to a bookstore down in Coral Gables, which is 40 minutes from my house, for a Reading/Q & A/Signing. ^__^ I'm not sure whether my parents will let me go, but the event is two weeks away, so I'll probably be able to convince them by then. *cross fingers*

Jasper Fforde is also going to be touring New York, Missouri, Illinois, Washington, California, New Mexico, Georgia and DC. If any of my readers live in these states and you've raised an eyebrow in interest of this event, you should click this link for details.