Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lorein Legacies

Storyline - Book 1 - I am Number Four - Number Four, also known as John, has moved from one town to another to escape the alien race that wants him dead. When he was just a child, his home planet was destroyed by the Mogadorians but a small group escaped. Three of the nine original children who are the only hope for their planet's survival are dead, and Four is next. After once again moving to a new town, Four's, or John's, Legacies, powers, finally start arriving. As he learns to control his skills, John must face bullies and alien fanatics while trying not to have his powers discovered. But as his power grows, so does his chances of being found.

Author - Pictus Lore

Age Group - 15 or 16 and up

Positive - The characters are dedicated to one another and try to help each other. The main character mostly listens to his guardian. He also sees another side of the bully, Mark, who also changes his colors. Four once risked his secret for someone he cares about and pretty much all the main characters risked their lives for one another. Four realizes why his guardian moves him around even though he doesn't like it and is sorry for going against him at one point.

Negative - There is a lot of bad language in the book. Much of it is back to back with sections without swearing between the but there is a lot. The main character seems to use excessive amounts of violence (even though he uses it during times when people are in trouble, he seems to keep using it when he doesn't need that much and also uses it to get information from those people he's fighting. Wouldn't it then make him just as bad as the bad guys because he's hurting them for information like they were going to hurt him or someone he cares about?). He strikes out in a lot of anger and rage. Also, he wants revenge on the Mogadorians for what they did to his planet and it seems that is okay. The main teen characters also go to a wild party. The scale tipper for me was when the main character and his girlfriend go into his room, sit on his bed, start kissing, then fall back on it. Nothing happens but something could have if the boy's guardian didn't show up. I don't need to read that stuff and I don't think it is right to put an almost sleep-together scene in a book for teens for that matter (it's why I changed the Age Group from '14 or 15 and up' to '15 or 16 and up'). Sex scenes are not okay, period. (There is more but this section is getting really long and I am beginning to retell the entire book)

Writing - The storyline was a very interesting idea but it wasn't put together very well. There was a lot of short sentences which could have been strung together to make for a more interesting description. The book also seemed to drag to the big climax at the end which got exciting and held my attention for most of it but then it also got a little long. I would like to say that something could have been cut from the story but I just don't know what. But, then again, the dragging problem probably could have been fixed if the short sentences had been worked out and would have made the book more interesting.

Personal Opinion - I'm afraid that this book was not that good. The dragging, short sentences, and everything in the 'Negative' section really kept me from enjoying the book. That and most of the things in the 'Positive' section didn't happen until much later in the book (pretty much after almost all the bad stuff happened) so it seemed Four wasn't learning much or changing. I also think the romantic scene stated above is very inappropriate and should never have been in the book and was unnecessary. If it was just to show how much he cared for the girl and loved her and how much it would hurt if they left, I already got that from other stuff in the book. Anyways, do we want to be teaching teens that it is okay to sleep with someone if you think you are in love with them? The amount of swearing in the book was also not needed. The characters make it seem that revenge was okay against the bad guys which teaches a really bad lesson on how to treat others. Sure, if someone is trying to kill you, you are going to have to fight back, maybe even to the death. But wanting to seek out revenge is just supporting violence and pain in the world. And, as pointed out in a different book by a different author, when does the violence stop? When is it enough? The bad guys are just going to seek revenge so then the good guys are just going to go after them again. Whatever happened to justice? (sorry, getting a little preachy). I probably wont be reading the other books in this series if this is how the others are going to continue.

Links - Learn more about the book and author at: http://iamnumberfourfans.com/ .

Special Notes - It is now a movie created by DreamWorks. Book 2, Power of Six, comes out this year.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Auralia's Thread

Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms

Storyline - Book 4 - The Ale Boy's Feast - After the slave rescue fails, the ale boy, Rescue, and the king of Abascar, Cal-raven, and several others are split up across the Expanse. The ale boy leads the survivors down an underground river to find the source of healing water and a safe place for the people. Cal-raven has to over come his failures and lead his people to the new home he's promised them. The glass workers are almost home and a woman named Milora is about to remember who she is. But things are not over yet with the Seers, having more to release on the people of the Expanse. As Deathweed and a new killer emerge, the journey is becoming more dangerous. Will the ale boy be able to save the people underground? Will Cal-raven be able to finally find what he has been searching for? And what will happen when the secret of their ancestors is found?

Author - Jeffrey Overstreet

Age Group - 16 and up

Positive - The forgiveness in the book was wonderful as Cal-raven pardons those that did great wrongs. Several of the people who did evil finally saw the truth about their actions and wanted to correct them. Jordam was shown to be more than what he appeared on the outside. Many of the main characters were underdogs and were strong people who became able to lead the others. The ale boy was very humble and only took authority because others looked to him. He also had a big heart and wanted to help everyone, didn't just think about himself. A woman, Brevolo, talked about the true qualities in a man which mentioned qualities that women should look for in men. Some characters died to save others.

Negative - Unfortunately, there were some stuff that brought the book down. Two people were seen naked but only one had a crude joke to go with it. The romance stuff was a little uncomfortable for me and thought some wasn't necessary (I like some romance in my books but there was something in this book makes me feel uneasy). There was a few too many love triangles (or pentagons or octagons) which made me wonder about who was truly in love with whom. One woman seemed to be throwing herself at someone, willing to come to him if he called, she said. Another character got pregnant before marriage but I do think one of the people in the relationship seemed to see that it was wrong but the book never really got into that. Something was also taken from someone by force because they knew that it would not be given to them completely but only partially (sorry if this is really vague but I don't want to give away the story).

Writing - The descriptions were intricate and detailed. They were very beautiful. In fact, there were times that they were so intricate that I got lost on what was being described but I still liked them and it made for colorful reading. It kinda reminded me of Shakespeare and how it takes a little to understand him but the language is flowers and pretty still. The author created strange creatures and weapons for his world and also, it seemed to me, gave new names to things that also exist in our world as well as that one (that made sense because, if something like a bow and arrow existed in another world, what would be the guaranty that it would have the same name there as it does here?). The diverse characters also made the book interesting. They ranged from being full of hope to completely despairing, being faithful to betrayal, and more. But I do wish that the characters' emotions had been tapped into more. I wasn't always sure of some of the characters motivations or feelings to one situation or another.

Personal Opinion - All in all, the book was an interesting analogy (at least I think it was meant to be). I was a little confused in the beginning but that was my own fault. I read book four in a series that really interconnects with each other but haven't read any of the others books (I did once read a review for book 1 and there was a short section in the beginning of this book to remind you of what has happened so far and a nice glossary on the characters in the back but I was still trying to figure it out on my feet. It didn't help either that I started it with a cold and my head was foggy). I know, that was pretty dumb but I did get past the confusion and I would have understood things better had I read the first 3 books. I am curious  about the other books so I probably will read them which might help me understand things more. But, anyways, some of the romance stuff did make me a little uncomfortable and I didn't see the point why someone had to be seen naked (I could see a small lesson was being started with the pregnancy one and wish it had gone more into it). But there was many good, Christian lessons to be had in this book. Though, I understood what some of the people or situations were suppose to represent, there were some I didn't quite get. In fact, one of them, in the way I interpreted it, didn't sound Christian like and made me feel uncomfortable but I might have miss understood so I wont share anymore on it. The book ended with too many loose threads I felt, but that could mean the author might write more books but concentrate on different characters (this is a guess, not a guaranty). Perhaps the books were really only meant to cover certain characters and then leave you with the rest of them still having a chance to grown and live (still a guess).  But there was still things, like the forgiveness examples and the characters actions that were positive, that I liked. The story was well told too (maybe a little rushed at the end but still good). Over all, it was a pretty good book. The descriptions and language makes this book great for an older age group who might still enjoy fantasy but doesn't want to read a book for young adults.  If you are interested, just one world of advise, be smart and read the books in order. Don't be me.
Links - Learn more about the book, other books, and the author at: http://lookingcloser.org/ . You can also find information, like an excerpt, at: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781400074686 . There is also an interview with the author in Family Fiction emagazine that help me understand the story a little. You can read it at: http://www.familyfiction.com/magazines/2011/mar-apr/pageflip.aspx ; on page 32.

Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Special Notes - There are three other books in the series; Auralia's Colors, Cyndere's Midnight, and Raven's Ladder. (Book list taken from http://lookingcloser.org/ - author's website. I have not read any of them except The Ale Boy's Feast.)

To read, comment, and rate this and other reviews, stop by http://bookwormreading.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Star Trilogy

Bookworm's Ranking - 3-4 Worms
Storyline - Book 1 - The Dragon Boy -A boy with no name and no place to go is finally about to make his dream come true to work next to the kingdom's dragon, Star. The boy gets a name and begins to make friends and enemies. Soon the boy is given a great task to wash the dragon and learns many secrets, and starts to get a few of his own. But when one of these secrets get out, there's trouble. What will happen to him now?
Book 2 - The Dragon of Two Hearts - Michael, the boy now a man, has heard about a dragon terrorizing the kingdom of Gladur Nock. As he heads that way to face it, he learns about the desperate plight of the people and a cruel king. He is taken to train with other warriors to face the dragon but, when he meets the beautiful princess, he's not too sure if he wants to go to his death. Can he defeat the evil Scorch? And, if he does, how will he concur the evil king?
 
Author - Donald Samson

Age Group - 11 or 12 and up

Positive - Interesting books. Star and the boy have a great love for each other. The boy stands by Star no matter what. When Michael goes after the evil dragon in book 2, he is willing to give up his life in order to save others. He learns great lessons though about who he is and how even he is not as good as he claims to be. He learns other lessons along with that but I will leave some of those for the reader to find.

Negative -I wish the boy hadn't given in to his angry so easily or at least learned that sometimes it isn't right to return the favor in the first book and, in the second, he planed to get even with a bully. I think you are suppose to get that the main character changes in several aspects of himself but it didn't mention this feeling of revenge specifically. Also, I wasn't too big on the idea of a dragon going back and forth of being good, then, after a time, returning to being wild. It just didn't seem right to make it sound that it was okay to go back and forth of being good and evil. They kind of made a point with this but I still wasn't too found of it. Two bad guys also talk about women in terms of what land and status they can get by marring them.

Writing - The books are written with simple wording and easy vocabulary. But the pace do differ between them. The first one was good. It moved at an alright pace and the characters were nicely created (I did find it strange how the boy kept saying "my love" to the dragon because that doesn't seem like something a boy would say but I don't know). Book two, though, seemed like it was a little slow in getting to the main story but their was a lot of information to go through to understand certain things latter on. But it didn't capture my attention very well. When it came to the time after the man fought the dragon, I got more interested and the story picked up pace.

Personal Opinion - I liked book 1 more than book two, mostly because I thought it was slower and it didn't capture my interest as much until much later on in the book. The books are clean and simply told. I kind of wish the main character didn't grow up by book two because I think kids like to read books about kids (at least that is what I assume because of how many book I've read that are for young adults that have young adults as the main character). Even though book two was much slower and less liked than book one, I am curious to see what happens in book 3 so I think I might read it but I am not so excited for it that I will go right out and get it as soon as I can.

Links - Learn more about the books and author at: http://www.thedragonboy.com/ .

Awards - For book 1 - Winner of the Moonbeam Awards gold medal for Best First Book in 2009. For the Mom's Choice Award, silver medal for Fantasy, Myth, and Legends. A finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Awards in Young Adult Fiction in 2010.
For book 2 - The silver medal in Young Adult Fantasy in the Moonbeam Awards in 2010. For the Mom's Choice Awards, silver medal in Fantasy, Myth, and Legends. In the Austin Waldorf School Children's Choice Award, Silver Medal in the 5th-6th Grades category.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Secret Life of Samantha McGregar

Storyline - Book 1 - Bad Connection - Since she was young, Samantha has had a gift. A gift for seeing things in dreams and visions. A gift she never really understood but her father seemed to. He also told her it was from God. Its been hard dealing with the gift since he died and with her mom not understanding it but when a class mate runs away and God starts giving Samantha hints as to what is happening to her, she has to make a decision on what to do with them. Are all the dreams from God? Should she listen to them? Or are they all messed up when she starts having dreams about this other girl? What should she do?

Author - Melody Carlson

Age Group - 15 and up

Positive - The main character really relies on God and always prays and asks for His help when she is unsure of what to do. She has friends who support and help her. She also makes clear what her gift is and isn't when people talk about it. Unlike some of the people she knows, Sam is not willing to go on a date with just anyone and sets a good example on how to date.

Negative - Nothing really negative except some girls are suggested that they have done things with boys that should be saved for marriage but it is made clear that it was wrong even though the girls don't believe that. The brother of the main character is also a druggie but it is shown what kind of mess one gets into with that sort of stuff. It has some grown up situations and hints that just makes this book more appropriate for a 'teen' age group.

Writing - The story was a little slow and it using words that make it in the present tense, like it is happening right at this moment, was a little irritating for me. It had a good storyline but the way it was put together and some of the word choices was not very smooth. Also, the characters continually using the same words like 'weird' got a little old.

Personal Opinion - The story had a good idea but some of the word choices were irritating sometimes and it was a little slow. But it did leave me wanting to know what happens next with Sam and her family. I also liked how the main character was a good example of a Christian girl in how she acted, dated, and differentiated on what her gift was and what more secular people might call it. I might read more of this series when I get money to buy them.

Links - Learn more about the author and her books at: http://melodycarlson.com/index.shtml .
There was an error in this gadget