Saturday, August 02, 2008

Gone for a while

I will be out of town for two weeks. I am taking many books with me to read:

  • The Golden Hamster Saga (all 5 books, including the 4th one I already reviewed)
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society
  • The Book of Story Beginnings
  • Operation Golden Scepter (Get a clue)

I'll be back in two weeks to review these books!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Haunting of Freddy, by Dietlof Reiche

Freddy is a golden hamster who is writing a book called The Lord of the Ferrets. When Freddy uses the book Curious and Remarkable Sentences of Death in Ancient Times as an inspiration for one of the characters in his book, he accidentally gives Grim Harry a chance to come to the modern world and seek revenge. Grim Harry is from the 18th century, 1778 to be precise, and he wants to behead a descendent of The Baron, who beheaded Grim Harry in the past. The Baron's descendants just happen to be one of Freddy's friends, Sebastian, and his dad, Lord Templeton. The ferrets from The Lord of the Ferrets are Grim Harry's pets. The rest of the book is about Freddy, Sebastian, and Sebastian's sister, Annabelle, trying to send Grim Harry back to the world of the undead.

This book was a fast read, and very funny even when it is scary. As I was reading it, I would suddenly crack up, with absolutely no reason why. I should also explain that although this is book 4 in a series, this is a complete story. In fact, I haven't read any of the other books in the series, and I still understood what was going on and I had a lot of fun reading it. If you like acting, poems, parties -- enough with the happy stuff -- terror, undead, and hamsters that write, you will like this book.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen

Hoot is about a kid named Roy who has just moved to Florida from Montana. In his new school, he is picked on by Dana Matherson, but Roy is the only kid in the history of Trace Middle School who fights back. One day, when Dana is squishing Roy's face against the bus window, Roy sees a strange kid. The kid was running fast with no shoes, as if he was going to the bus stop, except he had no backpack and no books. Roy decides to investigate and soon finds himself, together with the strange boy and his even stranger sister, fighting to save some cute little burrowing owls from the wrath of bulldozers. Their adventure includes killer dogs, pancakes, the police, alligators, cottonmouths, a kind of highly poisonous snake, and two new good friends.

Friday, July 18, 2008

May Bird Among the Stars, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

This is the second part of May Bird and the Ever After and it continues May's quest to get back home. It's about three things mostly: getting to the North, getting out of the North, and surviving the South. There are old characters like Pumpkin the ghost and Somber Kitty the hairless cat; there are new characters like the lady of the North Farm, Zero the ghost of a surfer dude, and commander Berserko, a devil cat.

This book is just as spooky and funny as the first one and I am looking forward to the third book, May Bird, Warrior Princess.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

May Bird and the Ever After, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

May Bird is a girl. She is different from other kids. She prefers walking in the woods than going to parties; she thinks quartz rocks are as valuable as diamonds; her cat does not have hair. One day May takes a walk in the woods. This time she does something different than the other times: she walks into the Endless Briers, which is a large field of briers that guards a secret entryway to the Ever After. The book is about May's adventures trying to get back home. The trip back includes perilous places, evil enemies, faithful friends, malicious menaces, fearsome fiends, a nifty knapsack, and a ghost named Pumpkin.

This book is funny at some times. For example, May attends Agatha's Boarding School for Girls with High Socks. Some parts of it are scary. For example, pretty much everything. Some parts of it are just plain weird. For example, if you touch a drop of water from the sea, you are sent into eternal torture.

If you like spookiness, cliffhangers, and spooky cliffhangers, you'll like this book.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jigsaw Jones Mysteries, by James Preller

Jigsaw Jones is a detective. He solves mysteries. The Jigsaw Jones series (buy volumes, they are cheaper) is all about Jigsaw Jones' many mysteries. I especially like cracking the codes in the stories. Try cracking this one:

    Blue the breeze can yellow kids stormy you chicken duck red snowy crack boy hats hurricane this dog blanket sunny code.

It looks like gibberish, doesn't it? Let me tell you what is the trick of the code: Look at all the words. Do you notice something? Are there a lot of words of the same kind? The message is in the words after those similar words.

I also like these books because they actually use real books. For example, they are reading Stone Fox at reading hour at school; and Jigsaw is reading Bunnicula at night with his dad. Both real books. I've read both of them; I like both of them.

The stories are short enough that you can read them in a car ride.

If you like mysteries, cracking codes, and good ideas for books to read (except for the creep show books, because they are the only books that aren't real) read this series.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Spiderwick Tie-In Books: A FieldStore Guide

Arthur's Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
This book is the actual field guide that they talk about in the Spiderwick Chronicles series. I think it is weird that the Grace kids went into so much trouble to hide the book and now it is being mass-produced! This book is about all the weird fantastical creatures that Arthur Spiderwick studied. It has labeled illustrations and lots of pull-out pages. In The Spiderwick Chronicles, the Grace kids saw many of these creatures, but they didn't see most of them. That is why this book adds a lot to the original series. This book is worth reading and keeping.

Care and Feeding of Sprites, by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
This is a book about how to care for sprites, which is really funny because... um.. you know... they don't exist. The pretty much only good thing about it is the poster. There is a fold-out poster on the dust cover. It is also really fun to have specifics of different kinds of sprites, not just the 10 words, "There are many different kinds of sprites in the world," which is about all Arthur's Spiderwicks Field Guide says. It is also fun to read how the author doesn't give a hint that sprites don't exist. This book is worth reading, but is only worth keeping if you: 1) want information on specific types of sprites, 2) want the poster, 3) believe in sprites, or 4) all of the above.

The Chronicles of Spiderwick, A grand tour of the enchanted world navigated by Thimbletack, by Holly Black
This book is Thimbletack's scrapbook of things he collected as the years went by at the Spiderwick estate. It is a sort of guide to the Spiderwick books including a map of the house, a family tree, and lots of interesting stuff about the people who have been there. This includes things that are not in the original series, like graded homework essays by the Grace kids, newspaper clippings from around the world, letters, pages ripped out of books, diary entries, and family pictures. It is fun to see how all these extra bits fit in with the original series, and it answers some questions you may have had when reading the series. For example, how did Aunt Lucinda convinced the sprites to come? This book has the answer. The Grant Tour book is worth reading, and worth keeping if you are a big Spiderwick fan (e.g., me!).

Notebook for Fantastical Observations, by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
This book is full of fun stories and activities organized by magical creature, including dragons, brownies, and lots of other creatures. For example, under dragons, there is a page for "Sketches for two locations where dragons may be found, in the real world and in the fairy world." Some of these activities are easy to complete, others may leave you stumped, such as (under Brownies), "I imagine this creature helping me with chores around my house." This book is definitely worth reading, but only worth keeping if you are willing to do the activities, like me. It is a good way to keep the fantasy going until the next series comes out (and, I assure you, it eventually will).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Holly Black

The Spiderwick Chronicles is a 5-book series about the Grace children -- Mallory Grace, Jared Grace, and Simon Grace -- and their adventures in a world full of fairies who live right along with us humans, but that only they can see. The books are The Field Guide, The Seeing Stone, Lucinda's Secret, The Ironwood Tree, and The Wrath of Mulgarath. The books are full of bizarre creatures (good, bad, and dead), duels, a certain amount of blood-shed, falling, running, more falling, and more running.

These books are a quick and fun read. I read them in three days the first time. Since then, I have read them two more times, so I think they are worth getting and they are worth keeping. There are lots of other books related to Spiderwick, which you will find in my next blog entry, in which I will tell you which of these books are worth getting or keeping or both.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Eager, by Helen Fox

At the end of the 21st century, robots are everywhere: there are teacher robots, butler robots, driver robots, and cook robots. Among all these robots, Eager (Model EGR3) is unique. He is the only robot who is not pre-programmed, but rather designed to learn from experience, quite like me or you (if you're a kid). This makes him able to think for himself. For example, pretty much all robots were programmed to not lie, EGR3 has to learn why lying is wrong. Having to learn from experience also means learning from mistakes, like when Eager tried to "clean" a human baby by putting her into the washing machine (NOTE: No babies were harmed in this book). Eager quickly becomes a part of the Bell family, but when the fanciest robots around (the BCD4s) begin to behave a little too much like people, Eager and the two older children of the Bell family are involved in a perilous adventure.

This book is sort of hard to understand at the beginning because the author talks about the world nearly a 100 years from now as if we know exactly what she is talking about. For example, the book starts when Gavin Bell has a conversation with his house. At the beginning of the book you might think, "okay, I'm too young to understand anything this says," but keep on reading and trust me, things will unravel.

Now the typical end for most of my reviews: if you like adventure, mysteries, advanced technology, and thinking about the future, this is the right book for you.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Strictest School in the World, by Howard Whitehouse

The Strictest School in the World is about a girl named Emmaline and a boy named Robert. Emmaline is a pioneer of aviation. In other words, she tries to make flying machines. Robert, a.k.a. Rubberbones, is pretty much indestructible. Did you know some bulletproof vests are actually made of rubber? Well, so is Rubberbones! Emmaline and Rubberbones work together to make flying machines; Rubberbones is the pilot, Emmaline is the engineer.

Unfortunately, Emmaline is sent to a... let's say... very strict school. In St. Grimelda's School for Young Ladies, missing one word in Latin class gets your knuckles rapped with a ruler. For a bigger mistake, you could find yourself cleaning the cage of some... er... birds. Believe me, that is worse than it sounds, but I won't spoil it for you.

The book covers Emmaline's struggle to escape St. Grimelda's School with the help of Rubberbones, a friend named Josie, the mad inventor Professor Bellbuckle, and her own brains.

If you like humor, wacky adventures, and a certain amount of bouncing and kidnapping, you will like this book.