Monday, June 29, 2009

The Farseekers

The Farseekers
by Isobelle Carmody
313 pages
young adult
TOR Fantasy, New York 1990

The Farseekers is the sequel to Obernewtyn which I wrote about a week or so ago. I will try not to say anything here to spoil the first one for you if you are interested in this series. Elspeth is part of an expedition in search of another Misfit, one who appears to be as strong mentally as she is. The other members of the expedition are searching for a "Before-times" library that is located in some tainted ruins. Their journey is filled with danger at every turn. Not only do they have to be wary of the Council's soldierguards and the Herders, but the mysterious man known as Henry Druid.
An interesting continuation of the first book, as a sequel should be. Of course, now I have to wait for the third one to arrive from who knows where via inter-library-loan. I still love the characters. Though I was a tad confused at first because it has been a few weeks since I read Obernewtyn and I have read several books in between. It took me a few chapters to straighten out all the characters again, but didn't really affect my enjoyment of the story.

High Country

High Country
by Jennie Hansen
231 pages

LDS Fiction/Romance
American Fork, UT : Covenant Communications, 2009

Laura was raised by her ailing mother and actively anti-Mormon great-aunt. She was home-schooled by the aunt and led a very sheltered life. At the age of 15, her mother died and her father came to take her home with him. A dreadful accident killed her father and nearly took Laura's life. Her aunt reclaimed her and Laura regained her strength, though not her memories. Eight years later, Aunt Alice has died and Laura and her cousin Bruce are left to sort through all the paperwork in the house. Laura discovered that she had inherited a large ranch in Idaho from her father and that she was married! Laura and Bruce head to Idaho to claim her inheritance and to find out the truth of a marriage she didn't even remember.

I decided to review this book on my blog not because I loved it or necessarily recommend it to anyone. It is here purely for the novelty of me reading an LDS fiction novel, and a romance at that! Definitely not my normal choice of reading material. I can't even say for sure why I chose this book. I believe I read about it somewhere and thought the story sounded interesting. It was an interesting story, though rather unbelievable in some parts. The main characters were okay, but annoying. A certain amount of cheesiness is expected in any romance novel and this was no exception. However, if you want a clean romance with an interesting plot, then read this book. Oh yeah, it was a fast read too which is probably the only reason I read the whole thing.

Friday, June 19, 2009

2030: A Day in the Life of Tomorrow's Kids

2030: A Day in the Life of Tomorrow's Kids
Amy Zuckerman and James Daly
ill. John Manders
unpaged
non-fiction
New York, N.Y. : Dutton Children's Books, c2009

Have you ever imagined what life will be like for the next generation of kids? It's hard to imagine technology being any more advanced than it is right now. The authors explore such ideas as having maids clean your house, clothing that reflects sunlight away from you, virtual reality playgrounds and giant holograms in your classroom. An entertaining look into the possibilites of the future (and I love the illustrations).

Sam Patch: Daredevil Jumper

Sam Patch: Daredevil Jumper
by Julie Cummins
ill. Michael Allen Austin
unpaged
picture book biography
New York : Holiday House, c2009

Sam Patch always loved to jump. Whether he was jumping off rooftops, cliffs or ships, Sam loved the thrill of it. He earned quite a reputation as a true daredevil. His biggest feat was jumping off Niagara falls! He was a crowd-pleaser and did his best to put on a good show while doing his death-defying stunts. This beautifully illustrated biography is an informative and fast read about a fascinating American Legend.

The Hunt for the Seventh

The Hunt for the Seventh
by Christine Morton-Shaw
273 pages
age 10+
Jim's father takes the job as head gardener of the vast Minerva Estate. The creepy Lord of the Manor tells Jim and his younger sister Sal they can't go anywhere on the his property without him knowing it. This doesn't slow Jim down as he is soon caught up in a centuries-old mystery surrounding the deaths of several children. The ghost children want Jim to "find the Seventh". They leave him strange clues scattered around the estate pointing him towards an ancient prophecy that only he can prevent from coming to its devastating conclusion.
The cover did a good job of catching my attention and the author did the rest. Although I predicted the ending fairly early on, I loved the fast-paced suspense of this book. Younger children will probably be a little creeped out by this story. Older children, and even teenagers and adults who like a good ghost story should check it out.

The Problem with the Puddles


The Problem with the Puddles
by Kate Feiffer
ill. Tricia Tusa
208 pages
8-12
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Puddle started agreeing to disagree when their daughter was born 8 1/2 years ago and they couldn't agree on a name. Mrs. Puddle calls her Emily and Mr. Puddle calls her Ferdinanda. Everyone else just calls her Baby because that is what the nurse ended up writing on her birth certificate. Baby, her parents and her older brother Tom are leaving their country house to return to the city. Everything is a typical chaotic muddle as they load the car, barely leaving room for themselves. They are two hours down the road when they realize they have left their two dogs, Big Sally and Little Sally, behind. Thus begins their adventure in trying to decide whether or not to return immediately for the pets or go home and call a neighbor to look after them until they can make it back to the country. Numerous other characters are introduced, each quirkier than the last.
This book was almost too ridiculous to read. There was so much nonsense and repetitive jabbering that it made my head hurt. I came close to giving up on this book several times. Thankfully, the author wrapped everything up nicely in the end. Tricia Tusa's black and white illustrations scattered throughout the book were cute and fit well with the story. Children in the 8-10 year-old range will probably get many more laughs out of this book than I did.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Dragon of Trelian

The Dragon of Trelian
by Michelle Knudsen
407 pages
age 10+
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2009

Calen was an orphan working at a roadside inn until Mage Serek discovers him and takes him on as his apprentice. Calen is excited at the prospect of being able to cast spells. He learns quickly that being a mage involves lots of study time and not so much spell-casting. When Serek becomes the King of Trelian's Royal Mage life becomes a little more interesting for young Calen.
Princess Meglynne is Royal Daughter Number Three. The castle is in an uproar preparing for her older sister's impending wedding. The marriage was arranged to put an end to the century long feud between the two kingdoms. Princess Meg retreats to an upper floor guest room to watch the groom's Royal Procession enter the castle grounds. She stumbles upon Calen doing the same thing. She instantly decides he is someone she can trust with her biggest secret - the young dragon she found orphaned in the forest. Calen wholeheartedly bends to the task of helping Princess Meg even if it puts both of their lives in jeopardy, several times.
This book has it all, princesses, magic, dragons, monsters and even a little romance. I was pleased that this book ended well on its own yet could have a sequel if the author feels so inclined. There were a couple of little things at the end that seemed out of place, rather like the author was trying to wrap things up quickly. Overall an enjoyable read. It's hard to go wrong with an exciting fantasy novel filled with intriguing characters.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Obernewtyn

Obernewtyn
by Isobelle Carmody
246 pages
young adult
New York : Tor, 2000, c 1987


Elspeth is declared a Misfit and sent to the mysterious Obernewtyn. The master of the place is experimenting on Misfits using some "Before-times" technology. He is trying to use the mental powers of the Misfits to discover the hidden location of the machine that caused The Great White and nearly destroyed the Earth. There are other groups hiding in the high mountains that are interested in the terrible machine. They desire to find it and use it to overthrow the current government. The Council rules everything in a strange partnership with the Herders. Both groups are unsure what to do with Misfits other than send them to labor camps or burn them as Seditioners.

This is an older series that I have just recently discovered. The Provo library only has the first one so I am having to use inter-library loan for the others. It was destined to intrigue me from the beginning as most post-apocalyptic novels do. The characters are well-done, you either love them or hate them. If you like young adult post-apocalyptic novels, then be sure to hunt down this one and give it a try.

the tear thief

the tear thief
by Carol Ann Duffy
ill. Nicoletta Ceccoli
unpaged
picture book
Cambridge, MA : Barefoot Books, c2007

The Tear Thief tiptoes through the neighborhood every evening collecting children's tears. She has a beautiful silver sack to hold them. Nobody can see her unless they see her reflection in a puddle. As she gathers these tears her magic works upon the children and they no longer need to cry. The most valuable tears are those made out of pure sadness. What does she do with all of these tears every night?
This is a sweet story perfect for bedtime. Ceccoli's ethereal illustrations are gorgeous and perfect for this twilight visitor.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

City of the Dead



City of the Dead

by Tony Abbott
134 pages
age 10+

New York : Scholastic, c2009.
Derek Stone is a slightly overweight 14-year-old who is partially deaf in his left ear. He lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans with his older brother Ronny and their father. At least he did until one day when everything changed forever. Now dead people are chasing him through the streets and he doesn't know why. With the help of some rather bizarre acquaintances, he must discover how to stop the walking dead before he becomes one of them. The tension starts in the first chapter with a train hanging off a cliff and continues through to the cliff-hanger of the final chapter. A fast scary read for boys in upper elementary and middle school.

Horrid Henry

Horrid Henry

by Francesca Simon
ill. Tony Ross
90 pages
age 6-10
Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, c2009.

Having a child like Horrid Henry would make most parents pull their hair out. He is a teacher's worst nightmare. He torments everyone around him in every way possible. In this, the first of the series, Henry is responsible for ruining his family camping trip, his dance recital and his mother's spotless kitchen. No matter what his parents say or do, he will never be like his younger brother, Perfect Peter. Who would want to though, "perfect is boring"! All the other kids have alliterative names such as Moody Margaret, Rude Ralph, Kind Kasim, and Sour Susan. The teachers have wonderful names like Miss Battle-Axe and Mr. Nerdon. Each volume in the series has four short but hilarious stories. The illustrations by Tony Ross are fun and remind me of Quentin Blake. I thoroughly enjoyed reading these, but I am not entirely sure I would want my little boy to do the same. I fear that Horrid Henry would give him too many interesting ideas! My only complaint is that despite all of his bad behavior, he didn't always get properly punished for his actions.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Tushy Book




The Tushy Book
by Fran Manushkin
ill. Tracy Dockray
unpaged
picture book

The Tushy Book confused me a little bit. I wasn't sure who the intended audience was. The cover is adorable with a touch of sparkle to attract little girls. However, the title and subject matter are a bit more appealing to boys as they think they are getting away with "potty talk". True, tushy is a nicer word than what most kids generally would use, but it is still a funny word for little kids to say. The illustrations are cute, but I wasn't too impressed with the overall story. The author did make a point of showing that people and animals all have tushies that serve the same purpose even if they look different: "Grown-up tushies, firm or droopy. Baby tushies, cute but poopy! Tushies dressed and tushies bare. Tushies, tushies, EVERYWHERE." A silly book to entertain small children with.

As a side note, is tushy even a real word? My spell check didn't seem to like "tushy" or "tushies".

The Mystery of the Fool & the Vanisher


The Mystery of the Fool & the Vanisher
Being an Investigation into the Life and Disappearance of Isaac Wilde, Artist and Fairy Seeker
by David and Ruth Ellwand
102 pages
Fictional Photographic Journal
Photographer David Ellwand explores an area in England called The Downs. It is a mysterious and magical place where one would expect to have supernatural encounters. Ellwand uncovers an old trunk full of strange paraphernalia including a fascinating journal by fellow photographer, Isaac Wilde. The Mystery of the Fool & the Vanisher is that journal as well as Ellwand's own journal. Full of haunting black and white photos this is an intriguing read for fairy hunters everywhere.
This is one of those books that can not be put cleanly into one category. It is in the fiction section, but reads like a true biography or even an historical description of an archaeological dig. The best way I can describe it is The Spiderwick Chronicles made more realistic for slightly older kids. It was a strange book to read, but I did like it once I got into it. I thought the ending was clever and mysterious, a nice touch to finish off the story.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Flip, Flap, Fly!

Flip, Flap, Fly!
by Phyllis Root
ill. David Walker
unpaged
picture book
Somerville, MA : Candlewick, c2009.

This little picture book was a pleasant surprise. It starts with a baby bird being helped from the nest and encouraged in his first flight. The baby bird then spots a baby fish who in turn is being helped to swim independently by its mother. This continues on through several different animals. I read it to my almost-3-year-old and he loved it. Due to the rhyming nature and the flow of the story, he was excited to be able to predict which animal came next. The story is a fun read-aloud and the pictures are adorable.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Artichoke Boy


Artichoke Boy
by Scott Mickelson
unpaged
picture book
Honesdale, Pa. : Boyds Mills Press, c2009
How many children know what an artichoke is? Maybe that is the point of this book, I am really not sure. It is about a boy that loves artichokes. He loves them so much that he is practically made of artichokes and he sees them everywhere. His whole family loves them too. An odd and rather pointless story accompanied by mixed media illustrations that are a little creepy. However, just because I didn't get the humor of this book doesn't mean some children won't.

The Roar

The Roar
by Emma Clayton
481 pages
10+
New York : Chicken House, 2009.

The future of London is bleak and dreary. Yet it is safe behind the wall. Safe from the Animal Plague that devastated the Earth. Mika's twin sister was kidnapped over a year ago. Although his parents believe she is dead, he knows better. A mysterious organization begins recruiting children to play a game. All the children become obsessed with winning the game, including Mika. The winners all have one thing in common, they are mutants. Will this game distract Mika from the mystery surrounding his sister's disappearance, or will it bring him closer to discovering the truth? I liked the characters and the story. My main problem was the ending which seemed to wrap up a little fast and was a bit too preachy regarding the environment. Overall, this was a fast and enjoyable read.

The Bar Code Rebellion

The Bar Code Rebellion
by Suzanne Weyn
265 pages
teen
New York : Scholastic, c2006

This is the sequel to The Bar Code Tattoo, which I strongly recommend reading first. Kayla Reed is a 17-year-old outlaw fighting against the now mandatory bar code tattoo. The bar code stores all the information necessary to living as part of society: driver's license, bank accounts, health information, etc.... All who rebel are sought by Global-1, the mega-corporation behind the tattoos. For some unknown reason, Kayla is more intensely hunted than others. Kayla along with other members of the resistance not only fight for their rights and avoid the tattoo, they also are searching to find the hidden background to the tattoo and Global-1.
A fun duo of books for teen readers. Some mild romance and violence but nothing offensive. Parts of the story are predictable and other parts are rather boring when they describe all the genetic research. I enjoyed the books because I love pretty much any fictional future book out there.