Monday, June 14, 2010

Morpheus Road: The Light, by D. J. MacHale

Reading this kind of book really just makes me go... "WHOA!"

I love D. J. MacHale's writing style. I have compared his best-selling book series of 10, Pendragon, to the Harry Potter series a few times before, I believe. But after reading this new book, published just this year, I'm telling you this dude, without a single doubt, is in the stratosphere! He's in the leagues of J. K. Rowling and James Dashner here. I'm now certain that no matter what he writes, even if it's the farthest thing from Pendragon, (to tell the truth, this isn't that far from it 0,o) I will absolutely enjoy it.

I'm kicking myself for ever judging this book by it's cover. When I heard that MacHale would write a new horror series, I already thought "Oh, that's not for me," because as a rule, I don't pick up horror novels. I mean, maybe the books I read have some sort of horrors in them, but I never consciously think "I'm reading horror." Then when I started seeing this book in the store... well, look at it! Looked like a total creep fest to me. No way would I read this.

There where 2 things that gave me the confidence and curiosity to give this book a try. The first thing was Graham's review. He hasn't read as much Pendragon as I have (only the 1st book, in fact 0,o), but he liked MacHale's style as much as I did and he tested the waters for me. He gave it really positive marks and gave me the impression that I'd actually enjoy it. The second thing was the last time I was in the bookstore (this was after I read Graham's review). I saw the book on a shelf and I decided to take a small peek in it, see if I liked the beginning. I read the foreword by D. J. MacHale, which was as great as his Pendragon forewords. ^_^ Then I got to the prologue...

Which really hooked me in! You know why? Because this story actually seems to takes place in the same universe of Pendragon! The main character lives in Stony Brook! He eats fast food at the Garden Poultry! There's even a mention of Mark Dimond! Familiar territory, baby! ^_^ Now I've gotta read this thing. When I got home I reserved the book online, and the next time we go to the library, it's in my hands. Now I'm done with it. (Obviously, otherwise I wouldn't be writing a review for it.)

Where to begin? Well, there's these 2 guys, Marshal and Cooper, who share a similar relationship to Mark and Bobby. One is shy, responsible and likes graphic novels, the other is more popular and outgoing and doesn't care what others think of him. Without giving too much away (you can see more details from Graham's review), Cooper (the wild one) gets in trouble and goes missing, and Marshal (the quiet one) has to save him, with the help of Coop's older sister, Sydney. What's the catch? Well, like I said, it's a total creep fest... but I actually liked that. ^_^

Marsh is an artist and drew this character he calls the Gravedigger (the psycho on the cover). One night, the Gravedigger comes to life and starts haunting Marsh, giving him the creepiest supernatural visions. Scared out of his life, he gets Sydney (who at first is pretty mean to him) to take him up to the lake where Coop is spending the summer. But that's just the beginning. What follows is a chilling, suspenseful mystery and crazy paranormal events that would drive lesser folks over the deep end. But not our heroes, Marsh and Sydney. They may be scared, but they're on a mission: save Cooper.

The whole thing was written like an awesome movie! I could honestly see the action unfolding in my mind, as if a camera was showing everything. I guess it's no surprise, since MacHale also writes for TV. My favorite scenes are when Marsh is being haunted for the first time, in his house, at night, all by himself (Dad is conveniently out of the picture on a business trip) and this bloody wave scene right out of the movie The Shining. Anyone know about that scene? Totally creepy, but a priceless scene nonetheless. A few chapters before it finishes, the mystery is solved and it seems like it's going to be a sad and bittersweet ending (there's a very touching funeral), but then the action comes back full-force. There is plainly a reason why this is going to be a trilogy.

If, like me, you fell in love with Pendragon, I see no reason why you shouldn't feel comfortable curling up with this book. It's just the kind of story that sucks you in on a wild ride you'll never forget!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Blade of Shattered Hope, by James Dashner

I was really excited to pick up the Blade of Shattered Hope from the bookstore about a week ago. This is the 3rd book in Dashner's 5-part series, The 13th Reality. Here are my reviews for Books 1 and 2 of this series. They are awesome. Having said that, I believe that I liked the first and second books much better than the third. Without giving away too many spoilers (I hope), here are a few reasons why I had a less than stellar reading experience:
  • It was pretty dark compared to the others.
Granted, I understand why it's a lot darker: Mistress Jane is upping her game, Tick's trying to control his newfound power, and in the meantime, his own family is being attacked and mixed up in this whole Reality mess. But James, if I were humbly able to suggest anything to you, since it's the 3rd in a 5 part series, maybe you could have saved the darkness for the last 2 books? Then again, from the ending, I have no idea where you plan to go with this series, so I'll just leave the writing to you.
  • Very few entertaining riddles for Tick to solve, which I really loved in Book 1, the Journal of Curious Letters.
In fact, there was only one riddle, near the end, which wasn't that hard. Maybe that was because I decided to flip through the book to see the pictures ahead (correct me if I'm wrong, but there seem to be fewer illustrations in this volume than the others), and I accidentally saw the solution before I got to that part. So I ruined that for myself. ~,~
  • Tick has so much mood switches about his feelings about Mistress Jane, which had me utterly confused.
Jane is evil and twisted, yes, everyone knows that. But first he feels pity for her and what he's accidentally done to her (See The Hunt for Dark Infinity), then he hates her guts for doing stuff to his family and friends. Then he feels there might be a glimmer of hope for her yet, and then he goes insane and tries to kill her with his wild Chi-karda powers, without thinking about any consequences. Yeah. For some reason, I don't feel like I recognize Tick anymore. He used to use his head, but now he just goes with his gut.

Besides pointing these things out, I do have some good things to say about Shattered Hope. I learned more stuff about the supporting characters, like Tick's mom and his sister Lisa, both of whom haven't gotten a lot of coverage until now (Dad and Kayla had great roles in Book 1, I thought. I wish there was more of them here, though). Also Sofia gets more backstory, and Sato becomes a very key player in this adventure. I think I'm warming up to Sato now. He was a real jerk in Curious Letters, but now I see that he's quite loyal and brave and has lots of other good qualities. He makes a great leader, I'll tell you that.

This book isn't my favorite in the series thus far, but the ending will really surprise you. Trust me. I'm not that sure exactly how it happened, even though I read it, but it's still a great cliff-hanger and makes me curious about what happens next.

As a side note, and another suggestion to James Dashner, I read the index of important people and terms at the end of the book. My suggestion is that maybe you should have all the terms we've just learned from this book separate, from all the other terms that we learned in past books, because it makes it confusing when they're all bunched up together. I was reminded of Billy "the Goat" Cooper and the Barf Scarf and the Tingle Wraith and all these things that weren't important to Shattered Hope. To tell the truth, looking back on those story elements made me wonder... why are those things so important to the story? Why should they all be in an index? And I still don't know what the ugly birthmark on Tick's neck looks like! ~,~

Here's a link to my friend Graham's opinions of this same book. I think he shares my sentiments almost exactly.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gotcha, sucker!

Fellow book-bloggers, (in fact, all bloggers in general)

Have you been getting comments from strange users who post strange links? The comments I get never have anything to do with me or the book reviews that I post, and it really creeps me out. Why would anyone do something like this???

The interesting thing is that this happens more often to my Book Club than to my journal blog, which leads me to conclude that this user (or users, maybe they work in a pack 0,o) is only interested in blogs that post book reviews.

As a solution, I am now moderating comments for Bettina's Book Club. Thanks, Graham, for suggesting this to me. ^_^

Thanks, and happy reading!
(BTW, how do you guys like the new and improved Book Club? I revamped the design just today, with the help of the new Blogger Template Designer. I think it's awesome!!! ^__^)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Marley and Me, by John Grogan

Before I read this book, I saw the movie that was based on it, which starred Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston. What a heart-warming movie Marley and Me was. It seems that they were really true to the story. ^_^

I loved the movie a lot, but nothing can compare to the book. There are so many more funny stories to tell about this wacky dog, and the book just leaves it up to your imagination how Marley gets into all his funny antics. It focuses less on the owners, John and Jenny Grogan's lives, and more on stories of their wild pet.

Even though Marley may seem like a dumb goofball of a dog - he eats anything and everything, he won't listen to simple commands like sit and come, thunderstorms freak him out, he's full of ecstatic energy no matter what the situation - there are times where he seems to know exactly what is happening and what is needed from him at the moment. Like when the Grogans bring home their first baby, Marley knows that he has to be gentle around him.

I got sad when Marley started to show his age. A dog who had acted like an overgrown puppy all his life, and he gets weak hips and a twisted stomach. ~,~ Even though I expected it all along, it was still quite sad.

John Grogan is a really good writer. Of course, he works as a columnist, so that must help a lot, but still. Telling all the funny Marley stories in such detail, he made me believe that they were all true (which they were.) I guess watching the movie, I'd be more liable to think that it was just another made-up plot, even though it says "based on a true story." Anyway, top marks. I highly recommend this book and it's movie to animal lovers everywhere. Here's a trailer for it.