Monday, April 25, 2011

No Place Like Holmes

Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms
Storyline - Griffin Sharpe is sent to England in 1903 to spend the summer with the uncle he has never known (not even his first name) or met. The only knowledge he has is his uncle is a detective, is called Snoops, and lives at 221 Baker Street, the address of the famous Sherlock Holmes. But, he is met with an unfortunate reality when he learns his uncle lives at 221A Baker Street and Holmes lives at B. In reality, his uncle is testy and doesn't really want him around but, when they land a strange case involving a missing man believed to be eaten by the Loch Ness Monster, it will take both of them, Griffin using is genius brain, and his uncle, using his strange devises, to uncover the truth. But the truth is bigger than either of them realized.

Author - Jason Lethcoe

Age Group - 12 and up

Positive - Griffin relies on God and prays to Him when things get tuff. He tells the truth and tries to do the right thing. Even when it is hard, he tries to be nice and respectful to others even when they don't return the friendliness. When his uncle explains why he is the way he is, Griffin empathizes with him. He also tries to protect the ones he cares about, even at the risk to himself. People also admit the things they did that were wrong eventually.

Negative - Not much negative. Griffin's uncle isn't so nice at first and is insulting to his neighbor, Sherlock Holmes. He wants nothing more than to beat Sherlock and he holds much anger towards him for a matter later found out in the book.

Writing - The writing was good and the characters well put together. I didn't see how more detail could have been added. I guess Griffin Sharpe was another legendary detective but I never heard of him until now but the author did say that we get to see many of the legends about him in the book.

Personal Opinion - Okay, it was the picture of the Loch Ness Monster on the front that first drew my interest. I know, kinda pathetic. But, as I was reading it, I found it was a good book with a good mystery. The only thing that got me was the robot that worked on steam. I don't know if that existed back in 1903 (or any of the other inventions of the uncle) but it just seemed strange. Other than that, it was a good story that moved well and contained many good lessons which the characters picked up. The mini-mysteries at the end were fun, even got one before reading the answer but the second one, no such luck. I don't know how many other people will get this but I was excited that Father Brown made an appearance (okay, I never read a Father Brown Mystery but I do think I know who the author is and am so excited that he was in the book). A mystery that is good for Christians and anyone else who wants to read it. It also leaves you with the knowledge that there will be more books to come...

Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher through Booksneeze.com.

Links - Learn more about the book and author at: http://www.jasonlethcoe.com/The_Wonderful_World_of_Jason_Lethcoe/Welcome.html , http://www.noplacelikeholmes.blogspot.com/ , and http://www.jasonlethcoe.com/holmes/ (This one has a book trailor if you are interested). Found some information about the book here: http://www.familyfiction.com/authors/jason-lethcoe/books/no-place-like-holmes/ and even see the cover of the next one.

Special Notes - There is going to be a second book and it said on amazon.com that it will be in December.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Soul Surfer - The Movie

Saw Soul Surfer on Sunday and it was great. Bethany Hamilton, a great surfer who was on her way to being sponsored, lost her arm to a shark attack. After it healed, she decided she wanted to start surfing again. But it is difficult only having one arm and trying to compete. She thinks she wants to walk away but she keeps being called back. Will she find what she needs to live her dream in spit of her missing arm?

Such a great story and message of dreams and relying on God. She trusts in Him to help her through the tuff time of trying to adjust to her new way of life. The movie has great examples of family sticking together and helping and caring for one another. They support Bethany and are always there for her.

I find it unfortunate that if I go on imdb or Rotten Tomatoes, Soul Surfer has a bad rating (about 6 stars on imdb and 53% on Rotten Tomatoes). I found it to be really good and don't see a lot of the stuff they were complaining about. In one on Rotten Tomatoes, though, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said "The film offers motivational catch phrases instead of any real insights into Hamilton's character or the religion that the film constantly reminds us is so central to her life." I didn't see the catch phrases and I thought it showed she was religious and knew God but, I will have to admit, I wish there had been more (or maybe I assumed there would be more) faith elements but I still thought it was really good. I didn't see the poor acting that some of the reviews talked about (some said it was a poor script and another said that is was hard to see past Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt and see Bethany's parents). But, other reviews talked about the great surfer scenes and I have to agree. They were stunning and interestingly captured. I really want to buy it when it comes out and I can't wait to get the book (I'm getting it for Easter but I can't start reading it until then). The movie showed that despite your limitations, you can do the things you dream of, "through the One that gives me strength."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Codebearer Series

Bookworm's Ranking - 5 Worms
Storyline - Book 1 - Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow - When a prank goes south, Hunter is mysteriously sent to this book shop where he ends up with a book. But this is no ordinary book. After reading some of it, he is whisked off to the land of Solandria where he is trained to be a Codebearer and fight the Shadow. Then he is sent on a mission by Aviad, the son of the Author, to recover the Bloodstone. But he doesn't realize how this mission will change him forever. Will Hunter be able to trust the Author, even if it means death?
Book 2 - Hunter Brown and the Consuming Fire - Hunter has returned home and it is the beginning of the school year. But it isn't going very well. His friends and classmates thinks he's weird when he talks about Solandria and no one believes him. But then Hunter gets a message from a Codebearer captain who needs help. He returns to Solandria shortly after to find the Resistance in trouble and sent on a task to deliver the Consuming Fire to the chosen seven. Who are the seven? Will Hunter be able to complete his mission? Will the Shadow be able to reclaim him?
Book 3 - Hunter Brown and the Eye of Ends - Hunter has lost his memory. He can't remember his last trip to Solandria or what happened. Suddenly, he finds himself being chased on all sides and urgently needs to find his missing father, who he has not seen in three years, and return to Solandria. No where is safe. A Watcher is also tracking his every move who wants Hunter's father and what he possesses. The end of the Author's story. Will Hunter find his lost memory? Is what his father saw true? Will the Shadow take control of the story?

Author - The Miller Brothers

Age Group - 12 or 13 and up

Positive - Filled with abundant Christian analogies that I can't begin to list them all. Hunter grows much over the series and learns to trust and be faithful to the  Author and his son, Aviad. He also learns about others and see things in new ways, over coming many trials along the way. Hunter stands up for his friends and what he believes in, even as the temptations and tests get harder and Aviad asks for the biggest sacrifice.

Negative - Out of the entire series, there is only one thing I wish had been done different. There was this one character that had been evil but had turned around but Hunter didn't trust him or forgive him. He did start to come around a little but I wish the book had shown Hunter change his feelings more.

Writing - Funny, original writing. A laugh even during serious times. You can just attach yourself to the characters and understand what they are going through and are feeling. The analogies are original and fresh and give you deeper meaning on different things on the Christian faith. The pace is good and keeps the story going without leaving out details or slowing down even when details are added.  Keeps you laughing and interested and excited and moved through the whole thing. A captivating book series.

Personal Opinion - Okay, take the scene from Tangled were Rupunzel is swinging around the tree by her hair yelling, "Best day ever!" and replace Rupunzel with me and the word "day" with "series" and you pretty much got what I feel for the Codebearer Series. I still laugh when I read the first chapter in the first book (even when I just think about it, a smile comes to my face it is so funny). It is full of humor but it doesn't take anything away from the story, it just adds great laughs. The  characters, back stories, description, analogies, and writing was very well done and not too slow, not too fast, or too much or too little information. I was excited (almost obsessed) with each book that came out and would love more on Solandria. Hunter was a character that you just enjoyed getting to know during his journey and seeing his growth in the Author. I can't remember who said it (me or another fan) but the characters seem like someone you could actually meet, they seem so real (okay, it was probably someone else who said that but I totally agree). The Miller Brothers know how to put a good book together and make characters that you can understand and relate to. Will read everything they write. Recommend to practically everyone because there is something that every person can enjoy. A Chronicles of Narnia for a tiny bit older age group. Via, Veritas, Vita.

Disclaimer - I'm not sure if I have to add this but just in case, I received book 3, Hunter Brown and the Eye of Ends, for free from the publishers for pre-reading and writing a short review for the front of the book. My opinions of this book is exactly as it says.

Links - Learn more about the books and authors at: http://www.millerbrothersbooks.com/ .

Awards - Book 1 - 2009 Bronze Moonbeam Award in Pre-Teen Fiction - Fantasy
Book 2 - 2010 Bronze Moonbeam Award in Pre-Teen Fiction - Fantasy

Special Notes - The book series also has a forum.
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