Mar 30, 2012

Abhorsen, by Garth Nix

Title: Abhorsen
Author: Garth Nix
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 426
Chapters: 31
Rating: 10/10
Genre: Fantasy
Number: third in the series
Series: 1-Sabriel, 2-Lirael, 3-Abhorsen
Person: third
Tense: past

Blurb (quoted):
“Beneath the earth, a malignant force lies waiting, greedy for freedom from its ancient prison. As the Old Kingdom falls into darkness and terror, people look desperately to the Abhorsen, scourge of the Dead, to save them. Yet Abhorsen Sabriel is lost, missing in Ancelstierre.
Only Lirael can confront the Destroyer. With her companions, Sameth, Mogget and the Disreputable Dog, she races across the Old Kingdom, battling Shadow Hands and dark necromancers, to reach Ancelstierre before it is too late. But what hope can one young woman have against an evil with the power to destroy life itself?”

I love this series – Sabriel, the first in the trilogy, was my first book rated 10/10 and now this one is added to the list. It draws you in, entrancing you in its alternate world; the descriptions are amazing, it creates a movie-reel in your mind and I found myself angsting to pick it back up every time I set it down.
The design and representation of the fictional world is consistent and enthralling; well-structured and put together.  I loved it. The creatures are probably my favourite part – this series is almost based on zombies I guess, but in a way most don’t think of, as they are portrayed somewhat different…
I loved the characters; even the sarcastic and brooding Mogget made me smile. Garth Nix has successfully created a connection and emotion between the reader and the characters within its pages.
As for the storyline, the first two or three chapters were average, but after that it set off running and within days I found myself in the final quarter of the book; the ending however was somewhat more difficult for me to read, not for lack of action or anything, but more because it’s all very stand-still for a large chunk, where you aren’t really moving forward or backward or going anywhere and you’re really just waiting – which is supposed to be tension-building, but I just saw it to be slush I had to push through before it picked up again in the last one or two chapters.
The writing is easy to follow, I found it easy to remember, despite how many different angles it is written from. The book actually jumps around from person to person, so it’s almost like three different books compiled into one, but in a way that works and weaves together to ultimately create a compelling, highly enjoyable read.
I really love this book, it’s a great contribution to the trilogy, and I highly recommend it to all fantasy lovers.

Mar 29, 2012

So, You Wanna be a Writer? by Vicki Hambleton and Cathleen Greenwood

Title: So, You Wanna be a Writer?
Subtitle: How to Write, Get Published, and maybe even make it big!
Author: Vicki Hambleton and Cathleen Greenwood
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 143
Chapters: 12
Genre: Non-fiction - Writing
Rating: 10/10

Blurb (quoted):
“You have the ideas and the creativity to be a writer. You’re missing only one thing… this book!
Do you long to see your name in print? Do you dream of captivating people with your stories, poems, or movies? If so, this is your chance! So, You Wanna Be a Writer? gives all the information you need to become a published author. Learn the secrets behind:
·         Finding the right genre to best express yourself.
·         Creating cool story lines and fascinating characters.
·         Starting your own reading and writing groups.
·         Overcoming the dreaded writer’s block.
·         Selling your stories and getting them published.
·         Promoting your work through signings, TV and more!
Read exclusive interviews with famous writers like Michael Crichton, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and Wendelin Van Draanen. Plus, meet ten real kid authors who share their best writing tips and advice!”

This book honestly covers everything – that is the first thing I have to say. It takes you through the entire writing and publishing process, explaining everything along the way.
Although it doesn’t say so anywhere on the cover, this book is for young writers hoping to get their name into print. It includes a dozen or so interviews with young writers from ages of about 8 to around 16, with information about how they write and why, and their publishing experiences.
The writing style is fun and enjoyable; unlike a lot of fiction books, it made this one fun to read. The information is helpful to those who are just starting out in the writing world or have already been researching and participating in it for years.
There are so many helpful resources, with websites and contacts for where to get published, including contests, magazines, publishers, and where to find more information on writing. It also includes some information about different careers for writers, types of writing, and tips about editing and writers block.
This book, as I’ve already said, covers everything, and anything it misses can be found in one of the resources listed.
I really enjoyed reading this book and found a lot of useful information in it. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for information on anything from writing to editing to publishing.

Mar 23, 2012

Career Ideas for kids who like Writing, by Diane Lindsey Reeves

Title: Career Ideas for kids who like Writing
Author: Diane Lindsey Reeves
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 162
Chapters: 9
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating:  9/10

Blurb (quoted):
“What do you want to be when you grow up? At the age of 10, 11, 12, or 13 could you possibly know exactly what career you will choose as an adult? Of course not! But these are the perfect ages for you to start discovering who you are, what you like to do, and what you can do best.
It’s natural for you to change your mind about what you want to be when you grow up. One day it’s an astronaut, the next it’s an athlete. The Career Ideas for Kids series takes advantage of this curiosity and shows you the many, diverse opportunities available to you.
This enjoyable new series guides you through a multitude of career possibilities based on your specific interests and skills and links you talents to a wide variety of actual professions. Highly motivational, and just plain fun, each light-hearted volume is filled with delightful text and playful illustrations to engage you.
Volumes in the series include Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Art, Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Computers, Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Science, Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Sports, Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Talking, and Career Ideas for Kids Who Like Writing.
Diane Lindsey Reeves hold an undergraduate degree in elementary education and a master’s-level certification in applied communications. She is a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute and is the author or co-author of several books. Reeves is the owner of a publication development company and conducts workshops on teaching career-planning skills to students. She is also the mother of two daughters and is actively involved in their education.”

This book, although aimed at pre-teens / tweens, was incredibly useful, informative, and inspiring for me, even at age 16.
It is interactive-optional, meaning there are activities within the book to complete, however they are optional and not necessary to continue reading. It’s well designed and set up in an easy to navigate and easy to understand way. The information is clear and informative while still interesting without being dull. It is easy and fast to read, as you can skip over parts that aren’t applicable or interesting to you. This book provides insights into your personality type, career options, and ways to get your foot in the door.
I found the book engaging and inspiring, as well as informative – it’s not a bore to read, which is key to non-fiction. It delivers exactly what it promises.
 This book has a recommendation from me to anyone wanting to know about career pathways that involve writing.

Chain Letter and The Ancient Evil, by Christopher Pike

This book is two novels, a first and its sequel, in one printed book. Therefore, I have done a review for each book, in the same document.

Title: Chain Letter
Author: Christopher Pike
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 278 (1 – 278)
Chapters: 18
Rating: 7/10
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Person: Third
Tense: Past

Blurb (quoted):
“Seven friends, one secret deadly chain letter. One by one they will regret they were ever involved.”

My Summary:
A group of high school teens have a dangerous secret: they killed someone – accidently of course.
But now someone knows, and they’re intent on making them pay for their crime in a sadistic manner told through a private chain-letter that has them all shaking in their boots. When they realise their life-or-death choice between doing the Caretaker’s deeds or hoping for survival, life becomes a finger-pointing game without answers until the final showdown when all is revealed and they have to use wits to work themselves out of a tight-spot.

This book was a little hard for me to read – I don’t know if it was because I was busy and distracted or because the content just didn’t hold me, but I had to check the book out twice to finish it.
However, the storyline is definitely interesting and I can’t call it a bad read; I would say it’s well thought out and planned, and has a definite structure.
The character I think annoyed me. They seemed a little inconsistent and not the type I prefer to read about, but they had personality and specific traits, even though they were all stereotypes.
The ending didn’t make much sense to me. It just didn’t gel with the rest of the story and seemed quite abrupt – it was the only part of the novel that seemed like it was thrown in and made up at the last minute as a desperate attempt to close the story.
What did keep me reading it, and even compelled me to renew the book was the curiosity it sparked. The writing makes the reader desperate to know who’s behind these incredible and disturbing letters that are tormenting the main characters. The story begs for an answer the whole way through but it isn’t given one until the last couple of chapters – and that part was a confusing disappointment.
I wouldn’t advise against reading it, or say it isn’t enjoyable, but it’s not something I’m likely to remember a year or even a few months down the track (not now that I know the ending).

Title: The Ancient Evil
Author: Christopher Pike
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 223 (281 – 503)
Chapters: 18
Rating: 8/10
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Person: Third
Tense: Past

Blurb (quoted):
“Seven friends, one secret deadly chain letter. One by one they will regret they were ever involved.”

My Summary:
The horror is back when Fran receives a chain-letter in the mail from the caretaker – after the supposed-caretaker’s death. Now it’s a fight to figure out who the new threat is before they’re forced to choose between something dear to them, or their life. With two friends dead, Alison accepts the help of an outsider to follow the trail in hope of saving their souls.

The surprise factor comes when the book seemingly starts over (anew) with a first chain letter, though it maintains the characters and includes reference to the previous story. This time, the novel focuses more on who is behind the torment – even though the culprit is supposedly revealed at the end of Chain letter, it is apparent someone else is in fact responsible.
This novel I consider to be better than the first; it makes more sense and has more clues as to where it’s heading, rather than keeping the reading completely in the dark from start to end. It is also considerably more thrilling – the first one had the fear-factor, but this one is far more worthy of nail biting as the stakes are much, much higher.
I thought there was a little more inconsistency in the characters again, mainly the main character who I felt had inexplicably changed – it’s like she’s one way at the end of the first book, and a different way at the start of the next one.
Parts of it seemed somewhat unrealistic to me, and other parts were downright frustrating. But again, it gave me that need to know what was going on – though it did become painfully obvious somewhere in the middle, it managed still to give a surprise at the end.
Speaking of the ending, it made a hell of a lot more sense than the first and was much more satisfying.
Overall, I’d say this book was readable and interesting, but perhaps could have used some work on the construction side.

Mar 22, 2012

Write Your Own Fantasy Story, by Tish Farrell

Title: Write Your Own Fantasy Story
Author: Tish Farrell
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 61
Chapters: 10
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 4/10

Blurb (quoted):
“Want to be a writer: This is the perfect place to start. The Writ Your Own series will teach you how to craft believable characters and intense plots, along with satisfying beginnings, middles, and endings. Examples from numerous books appear throughout the text, along with tips from published authors to help you along.

Fantasy is one of the most popular types of fiction. Fantasy stories – from The Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter – feature characters, places, and events that are beyond what is possible in our world. These stories make amazing, surprising and fantastic things seem completely real, and these takes hold readers in their grip from beginning to end.”

This book is supposed to be a guide to fiction writing. Although it has suitable content, it taught me nothing new, about fantasy or writing. This fact brings me to say that it is suitable for a beginner, who is just starting on their way to novel writing.
The cover is professional and attractive, eye-drawing, and gives the sense of many pages of text (just as a novel is), however when I opened it I found instead a picture book, which took it down to a younger level and somewhat disappointed me.
I would only suggest this book to younger people looking to begin novel writing for the first time.

Mar 19, 2012

After the Snow, by S.D. Crockett

Title: After the Snow
Author: S.D. Crockett
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 308
Rating: 5/10
Genre: Adventure / Sci-fi fantasy
Person: First
Tense: Present

Blurb (quoted):
“Fifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone.

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone -- he doesn't have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl -- but Willo just can't do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family?”

I’ve got to be honest, although it was readable (if your tried hard enough), I felt like I was going to drop a few levels in English just reading this. It wasn’t bad writing, in fact it’s actually structured well… But the writing style, which I assume was due to the theme/setting of the actual book, was (what first comes to mind) caveman-style; it was illiterate and improper. At first it made me think of a Texas accent (I’m not dissing on them at all, by they tend to skip the beginning or end of words and such) but it’s just beyond that, and it really got on my nerves, though it fits the storyline perfectly because Willo (main character) has been raised in the wild, without school, and it just makes sense – but it’s irritating.
Other than that, the storyline is easy as pie to follow, and it’s good in that it has multiple settings, and you aren’t stuck in the same place throughout the whole story. It takes you on a journey.
I’d suggest this book to guys – I don’t mean to be sexist or anything, but it is certainly not the type of thing I usually read though I’m sure my brother would enjoy it (if he wasn’t so stubborn he refuses to read anything I suggest).
I found the setting, a sort of post ice-age / apocalypse world, interesting to say the least. It’s quite original in my opinion and written well enough to allow the reader to turn it into a movie in their mind (if that is how they read, like me). And I can’t honestly say there was a dull moment – there really wasn’t.
The characters are definitely individuals, there aren’t a bunch of clones filling these pages, and each have distinctive personalities and skills which help propel the story through the different settings.
Personally, not my piece of cake, but overall an acceptable read.

Mar 18, 2012

Eon: Dragneye Reborn, by Alison Goodman

Title: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
Author: Alison Goodman
Genre: Fantasy
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 529
Person: First
Tense: Past
Rating: 6.5/10

Blurb (Quoted):
Swordplay, dragon magic – and a hero with a desperate secret.
Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye – an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.
But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.
When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic… and her life.”

This book is so detailed – that’s the first thing I have to say about it. The descriptions allow for instant mental images, and I think that is the main part of what drew me into this book. I read it in only a few days (faster than I expected), and though I enjoyed it, it didn’t “wow” me.
One thing about the characters is that the main character, Eon (or Eona), was somewhat an empty shell – she has heart and morals and emotion, yes, but she has no favourites or preferences. Also, the emotions are quite empty in my opinion; someone dies and it’s almost like “yeah, whatever – next!” but at the same time it’s not… The author addresses the emotion, but the reader can’t feel/experience it.
A huge theme in this book is a mix of Japanese and Chinese culture. The whole story is based on their customs and beliefs, though set in a fictional place.
I don’t have much else to say about this book. It was fun to read, and the sequel (Eona) is on my reading list, but it doesn’t make the favourites-cut.

Mar 11, 2012

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Seen as Google+ Friend Connect is shutting down for all blogs (other than blogger apparently) I figured I'd get up another way for you guys to keep up with me incase you can't use it anymore! Blog Lovin lets you follow any blog, from any publsiher!
<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Mar 4, 2012

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Genre: Mystery / Romance
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 452
Chapters: 59
Rating: 9/10
Person: First
Tense: Past

Blurb (Quoted):
“When Mara Dyer wakes up in hospital with no memory of how she got there, or any explanation as to why the bizarre accident that caused the deaths of her boyfriend and two best friends left her mysteriously unharmed, her doctors suggest she start over in a new city, at a new school, and just hope her memories gradually come back.
But Mara’s new start is anything but comforting. She sees the faces of her dead friends everywhere and now she’s started to see other people’s deaths before they happen. Is she going crazy? As if dealing with all this isn’t enough, Noah Shaw, the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen, can’t seem to leave her alone. But does he have her best interests at heart, or another agenda altogether?”

My Summary:
After Mara is left unharmed from an accident that she can’t seem to remember which killed her boyfriend and two friends, she and her family move to Miami, Florida for a new start. But Mara, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is haunted by her friends’ faces.
When people start dying after Mara imagines it, she’s positive she’s crazy and struggles to discern hallucinations from reality.
To complicate things more, Noah Shaw, the boy with a reputation, won’t leave Mara alone and she’s swept along in a current she can’t control. But when crazy gets dangerous, Mara discovers a shocking truth.

The story line (coming out of an accident / coma and life being different forever) seems to be becoming pretty main-stream and common – but to say that this book is ordinary would be a lie.
First, I loved this book because not only was it addictive, but it kept me grinning the whole way through – and I’m not just saying that, I seriously had a grin plastered on my face for almost every page.
It’s witty, sarcastic, teasing, even embarrassing… Everything to spark interest and keep you page-turning. I wish I could say this book was a comedy for how much I laughed, but it really isn’t in any way – which doesn’t even make much sense. Point is, I was hooked and found myself up late as well as pulling it out at school.
I have to say, it has quite a twist towards the end and just the last few chapters of the book completely changes the story line. It sort of threw me and that made me a little irritated, but didn’t make it any less enjoyable.
There are a lot of questions to be asked throughout this novel: who was that? Was that real? What does it mean? What’s going to happen next? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? All of which are answered in due time – well, almost all.
The ending leaves it open for a sequel, though it doesn’t actually hint at one (if that even makes sense?) so there could be another, but I can’t see the storyline for it.
I found this quite an enjoyable read, and I applaud the author as this is her debut novel.

Bleeding Violet, by Dia Reeves

Title: Bleeding Violet
Author: Dia Reeves
Target Audience: Young Adult
Pages: 454
Chapters: 36
Rating: 5/10
Genre: Fantasy / Romance
Person: First
Tense: Past

Blurb (quoted):
Love… can be a dangerous thing.
Hanna simply wants to be loved. With a head plagued by hallucinations, a medicine cabinet full of pills, and a closet stuffed with frilly violet dresses, Hanna’s tired of being the outcast; the weird girl, the freak. So she runs away to Portero, Texas, in search of a new home.
But Portero is a stranger town than Hanna expects. As she tried to make a place for herself, she discovers dark secrets that would terrify any normal soul. Good thing for Hanna, she’s far from normal. As this crazy girl meets an even crazier town, only two things are certain: Anything can happen and no one is safe.

My Summary:
Hanna is nowhere near what you would term normal. Hallucinations, pills – and purple, everywhere. When she gets sick of her aunt checking her into the mental wards every few weeks, she escapes and makes her way to Portero, Texas, to find her birth mother.
But things aren’t much better here. Her mother doesn’t seem to want her and she’s an outcast in a school of secretive students all in black.
But with a romance brewing as Hanna discovers the town has secrets crazier than her, Hanna may just find she fits in better than she thinks.

Without thinking about it, I would say I enjoyed reading this book – but with a second thought? I really don’t know.
It’s incredibly disturbing in a sense and…. Well, somewhat psychotic – which I suppose is the point of a crazy main character, but it has such a… careless attitude towards murder which doesn’t sit well with society.
Also, it’s quite confusing – towards the end (now I have to try not to give anything away here), it hints that Hanna isn’t crazy at all because one of her hallucinations becomes tangible and affects other people for real…
I’ve read a few other responses to the book and discovered a mass of people gave up before the end out of confusion or irritation. I can totally understand this, but the book still keeps you page-turning.
It was “sort of fun” to read, and kept you page-turning, wondering what was going on or what would come next – but then it also is a scramble of events and ideas. It’s just a mess of scenes and half of them don’t even make sense… I would say there isn’t any structure to this book – maybe that’s the best way to put it.
And then I can’t help but want to say that it was a good read, which just confuses me. I can’t make up my mind about this book to be honest.
In conclusion, if you are a “surface reader” (only interested in words and storyline) you’ll probably enjoy this book, but if your analyse sequence, sense, messages, etc. and really look into it then you might want to steer clear.
I’d say read it yourself and make your own opinion.