What I’ve Read This Month – May the Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

From the title, I’m sure it probably isn’t too hard to guess what I was reading this month! 😉 I recently saw the first two Hunger Games movies and absolutely loved them. Of course, that meant I had to read the books. Including the three Hunger Games books, I read a total of six books this month, so I was two above my goal of four books a month.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In a dystopian future, North America has turned into Panem, a rigidly controlled country with twelve districts and one Capitol. Every year, two tributes from every district, a teenaged boy and girl, are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised battle to the death. Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12, volunteers for her little sister, Prim, when Prim is chosen as Tribute, placing Katniss in mortal danger. I read it (actually listened to the audiobook) in one day as I couldn’t put it down. Even though I had seen the movie and knew what was going to happen, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time!

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Katniss finds herself in the middle of an uprising. The districts have had enough of the Capitol’s control, and the spirit of rebellion is spreading throughout Panem. The Capitol has its own plan to stop the rebellion, and it places Katniss and Peeta’s lives on the line again. This was my favorite book of the series. The political schemes to take down the Capitol were intriguing and meeting the other Tributes who had won was really neat, too.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The districts are in full-out war against the Capitol. Katniss and her family are refugees, fighting for their lives as they try to survive the rebellion. This had to the be one of the most heartbreaking and emotional books I’ve ever read. Katniss and the rest of the cast of characters were starting to crack from everything that had happened to them. It was awful seeing the characters I’d learned to love so broken and miserable. I was in tears by the end of the book.

Assumptions That Affect Our Lives by Christian Overman

Behind our opinions and culture, there are basic presuppositions that we take for granted. In this book, Mr. Overman explores these assumptions and explains where they came from. I read this book for school as it went along with the philosophy curriculum that we’re using.

The Odyssey by Homer  

The classic epic of Odysseus, hero of the Trojan war, as he attempts to return home for ten long years. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Homer’s works. It was entertaining and easy to read for something that was written thousands of years ago!

Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare

It’s the tragic love story between a Trojan prince and a traitor’s daughter set in the midst of the Trojan war. This isn’t one of Shakespeare’s most famous or best plays, but it was still pretty enjoyable.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? Do you have any recommendations for me? Leave me a comment and let me know!

~ Kayla

What I’ve Read This Month

I’m taking a small break from Snow to share with everyone the books I’ve read this month. Even though it’s felt like a slow reading month, I managed to finish a total of 8 books!

Two of the books that I read this month

Two of the books I read this month

Pie by Sarah Weeks

When looking for new books on http://thestorysanctuary.com, I came across a review of this book. Even though it’s for a younger audience, after reading the summary, I couldn’t pass it up. When her beloved Aunt Polly dies, Alice is left with Aunt Polly’s fat old cat Lardo and the memories of her Aunt’s world famous pies. Polly’s pie crust is so famous that people are willing to do anything for it, even catnap Lardo. Alice and her friend Charlie have to solve the mystery of who took Lardo and who broke into her aunt’s pie shop.

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill

The autobiographical story of Brother Andrew’s life and work supporting Christians behind the Iron Curtain. This has to be one of my favorite books I’ve listened to. God’s faithfulness to Andrew in even the smallest areas of his life was both encouraging and inspiring!

The Death Cure by James Dashner

Thomas and his friends decide they have had enough of WICKED. They escape the compound with friends Brenda and Jorge and strike out on their own. This book, the third in the Maze Runner series, was amazing!

The Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner

This is the sequel to Mr. Dashner’s book, The Eye of Minds. I was so excited to read this book, I was first in line at the library to get it! Everything Michael knows about his life is wrong. After finding out what he truly is, Michael tracks down his friends, and together with VirtNet security, they start their hunt for the the rogue computer program, Kaine, who’s intent on murdering gamers in the virtual world of the Sleep.

A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh

Mall lives in the small town of Eyam in the year 1665. One day, a parcel is sent from London to Eyam carrying not only patterns for dresses, but the seeds of the plague with it. The book, based on historical fact, is heartbreakingly sad and sweet. Mall tells the story in journal form of how the plague ravages her town and the people she loves, and the solution the people of Eyam agree to in an attempt to stop this disaster.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The classic horror story of a young governess who accepts the job of taking care of what she believes to be two perfect children. The blissful haven she’s created is soon turned on its head when the governess starts seeing two ghostly figures. When I was reading this novel, I was confused about what was going on and by the vague language being used. After looking it up, it turns out James wrote this ghost story to be intentionally ambiguous.

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

Mark Antony rules the Eastern Roman Empire, and Cleopatra is the Queen of Egypt. Two of the most powerful people in their world are caught up in a passionate love affair that eventually costs them their empires and their lives.

The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad is the oldest known work of Western literature. It’s the epic poem of Achilles’s wrath and how it affects the Greeks and Trojans fighting over the beautiful woman Helen. I read this for school and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

What books have you been reading recently? Have you read any of the books on my list? Do you have any suggestions for me? If so, leave a comment below! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

What I’ve Read This Month

Last month, it was all about Percy Jackson. This month, it’s all about the Heroes of Olympus, the second Percy Jackson series. I’ve enjoyed these books as much as I enjoyed the last Percy Jackson series. Including the three Heroes of Olympus books I read, I finished a total of five books this month.

The Mark of Athena and The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

The Mark of Athena and The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

The Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Jason wakes up on a bus with no memory of where he is. All he knows is that a girl named Piper is holding his hand and a guy named Leo is claiming to be his best friend. The three of them discover their demigod heritage at Camp Half-Blood where they undertake a dangerous quest to save the goddess Juno. Just like the first Percy Jackson series, I’ve really enjoyed this one. The viewpoints of the different demigods switch back and forth which gives the reader a chance to really get to know them.

The Heroes of Olympus: The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is fighting monsters in California, trying to find his way to a camp for demigods. His only memories are of his girlfriend, Annabeth. After finding his way to the camp, he undertakes a quest with his friends Frank and Hazel that will allow his memory to return .

The Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

When the Greek demigods’ meeting with the Romans goes wrong, the seven demigods of the prophecy sail off to find the Doors of Death and stop Gaea from destroying the world. This was the most exciting and heartbreaking book so far. I was pretty close to tears at the end!

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

After escaping from the Maze, Thomas and the other Gladers are sure they are safe. However, WICKED has other plans for them. The Gladers are forced to face madmen and burning hot deserts in the race for the cure that will save them from the fatal disease they were infected with. I read The Maze Runner several months ago and loved it. I finally got the second book from the library, and it was just as good. I read it all in one day, and it was super exciting and thrilling.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

This is the classic “letters from a demon” tale. Wormwood, the older and wiser devil, instructs a younger tempter on how to cause a new Christian to stumble.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? Do you have any book recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

What I’ve Read This Month – Percy, Percy, and Even More Percy

If you want to know what I read this month, I’ve got two words for you. Percy Jackson. I started reading the Percy Jackson series this month, and I have absolutely loved it. In fact, five of the seven books I read were from the first Percy Jackson series. So, be prepared for lots and lots of Percy Jackson! 🙂

Some of the books I've read this month. I had to return two of the books to the library since others wanted to read them. :)

Some of the books I’ve read this month. I had to return two of the books to the library since others wanted to read them. 🙂

 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

One day Percy is attacked by a creature straight out Greek mythology. The only place Percy is safe is a summer camp called Camp Half-Blood where he finds out who he truly is. There he goes on a quest to recover Zeus’s master bolt. After hearing about these books again and again, I finally decided to give them a try. It’s safe to say I’m a fan now!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Camp Half-Blood is being overrun by monsters because the tree that protects the camp is poisoned. When Percy returns to camp, he has a nightmare about his best friend Grover who is being held by a Cyclops. When Annabeth, Percy’s other good friend, hears about Percy’s nightmares, she realizes the key to saving Camp Half-Blood is to rescue Grover and find the Golden Fleece. Just like the first book, the second Percy Jackson book was terrific!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

Grover needs Percy’s help again when he discovers two new half-bloods at a school. It’s there that Percy and his friends learn that Kronos, enemy of the gods, has set up a trap for them. I’ve been enjoying the series a ton, and each book is as good as the last.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Camp Half-Blood is in trouble. The Titan army is planning an invasion through Daedalus’s labyrinth. The camp’s only hope is to convince Daedalus not to give the Titan army the string that will lead them through the maze. Another great Percy Jackson book!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson leads Camp Half-Blood in a last ditch effort to save the camp and Olympus itself. This was probably my favorite book in the series. It was absolutely amazing, and I was cheering Percy on at the end. A great conclusion to a great series.

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

After Jaron takes the throne, there is an assassination attempt on his life. He soon realizes that the only way to save his kingdom is to leave it. He tracks down his enemy, the pirates, in order to stop a war from coming to his land. I read the first book in the series, The False Prince, and I liked it. I didn’t like this one as much. It took me a while to get through the book. I didn’t really love Jaron, and I found the book really hard to get into.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe is the story of a man marooned on a deserted island for many years. The book tells how he survived on the island and learned how to provide for himself. I was surprised about how much I enjoyed the novel. The descriptions and such could get a little long, but mostly it was an entertaining novel to listen to.

Have you read any of these books? If so, did you enjoy them? Do you have any recommendations for me? Comment below and let me know!

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

What I’ve Read This Month – My New Favorite Author

The month of June began as a slow reading month. For the first couple weeks, I only managed to read one or two books. Then I had a rash of books that didn’t grab me and keep my attention. I was afraid I wouldn’t make my reading goal. Enter The Maze Runner by James Dashner, my new favorite author. The Maze Runner was so good that I finished it in a day, and it made me want to read, read, and read some more! I went on to read another one of his novels that was just as good. I ended up reading a total of eight books this month, and today I’m sharing what I thought of them!

The books I've read this month

The books I’ve read this month

Legend by Marie Lu

I read a review of this book from http://thestorysanctuary.com/, decided to give it a try, but never ordered it from the library for some reason. When I went book hunting last, I found this book on the shelf, remembered the title, and took it home. I’m glad I did because it was a really good book. It had a bit of romance in it which I didn’t mind since I thought it was so sweetly done. It’s the story of a boy named Day, the Republic’s most wanted criminal, who lives on the street, trying to survive and help his family. June is a prodigy agent who is fiercely loyal to the Republic, and her dream is to arrest Day. When June’s brother is murdered, it’s believed that Day killed him. June goes on a whirlwind hunt to try and track Day down. In the end, both of them learn secrets that they never expected to uncover.

The Copernicus Legacy: The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott

Right before his Uncle Henry’s suspicious death, Wade Kaplan receives a coded email from him. Along with his stepbrother, Darrell, their cousin Lily, Lily’s friend, Becca, and Wade and Darrell’s dad, Dr. Kaplin, Wade heads to Germany to figure out what happened to Uncle Henry. What they don’t realize is that they are stepping into a historical mystery involving relics that a secret order will kill them for. Both the characters and the mystery were believable (well, as believable as historical codes and mysteries and secret family graves can get), and I loved all the main characters. It was an enjoyable read, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the next book.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

This is the classic adventure tale of David Balfour who was kidnapped and sent to the Carolinas by his evil uncle. When the ship wrecks, David and his new friend Alan Breck race across Scotland to avoid soldiers and return to David’s home so he can claim his inheritance. I really liked this exciting novel. We listened to the audiobook version of it, and the narrator was Scottish. His accent made the book even more enjoyable and authentic!

Saving Thanehaven by Catherine Jinks

Noble and his sword Smite are trying to rescue a princess when a boy named Rufus comes along. Rufus tells Noble that he can think for himself and that Noble is actually something called a computer program. When Noble takes Rufus’s advice and starts thinking for himself, his computerized world starts crashing down around him. I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was brilliant how the author created a personified world in the computer. The quirky team of characters was fun and the ending was really, really good. It was not what I expected at all!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I put this book on hold at my library back in April. I was number 55 in line. Two months later, I finally got to go and pick the book up. I read it all in one afternoon, and during that time I laughed, I cried, and I cheered. Wow. So good. The Maze Runner is the story of a boy named Thomas who opens his eyes one day to find himself in a lift. He remembers nothing except his name. When he reaches the top, a bunch of teenagers welcome him to the Glade. Thomas learns that this “safe-haven” is surrounded by a maze with no exit. Once Thomas arrives, things begin changing, and soon it’s a race to save the “Gladers.”

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

I picked this book up last time I went book hunting, recognizing the name from The Maze Runner (which I hadn’t read yet). After finishing and loving The Maze Runner, I was eager to try another Dashner book. Wow. It was amazing. I was hooked from the first page, and I finished it all in one day. I couldn’t stop reading! I loved the characters and the huge twist at the end. Michael is a gamer who loves spending time in the VirtNet, a total mind and body emersion into the game world. One day, VirtNet security tells him there’s a dangerous hacker on the loose, and it’s up to Michael and his friends to stop him.

The Pig Who Saved the World by Paul Shipton

A few months ago, I read The Pig Scrolls by Paul Shipton and loved it. This is the hilarious sequel in which Gryllus the Pig and his friends must save the Cosmos once again, this time from King Sisyphus. The sequel was just as good as the first one. I loved Orpheus, the talking head. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that this is the last Gryllus the Pig book. I’m going to miss reading about the ancient world’s one and only Cosmos-saving talking pig!

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

In the second Book of Ember, over 400 of the “Emberites” have escaped their dying city and are now on the surface. Along with Lina and Doon, they travel three days and find themselves in the small village of Sparks whose inhabitants have agreed to help the Emberites. Soon, the people of Sparks are running out of food because of the extra four hundred mouths to feed. It’s up to Lina and Doon to avoid an all-out battle. I enjoyed the book quite a bit, finishing it in a day. I didn’t like it as much as the first, but still, it was good story and a good sequel. I can’t wait to find out what will happen in book 3!

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Book to Movie – The City of Ember

Giant killer moles and humungous moths and beetles? This isn’t exactly the Ember I read about in Jeanne DuPrau’s novel. About a month ago, I read the book and loved it, and you know what that means. Yep, I had to go and see if there was a movie adaptation. There was a movie (yeah! 🙂 ), but it came with some pretty bad reviews (boo! đŸ˜„ ). Still I borrowed the movie from the library and, with very little hope, watched it.

Even with the addition of giant rodents and insects and a good number of deviations from the book, the movie wasn’t terrible. I went in expecting to turn it off in the first half hour and ended up watching the whole thing with only a touch of grumbling (ok, my mother told me to be quiet after the first few complaints). Warning: if you haven’t read the book yet, I wouldn’t read beyond this point. I spoil quite a few things in the book in reviewing the movie. So go finish that book, and then come back! 😉

On the positive side, it was a pretty entertaining movie to watch. It was family friendly, but still exciting. The main characters, Doon and Lina, looked as if they had stepped out of the book, especially Lina. By the way, the actress who plays her has a really cool name – Saoirse Úna Ronan. I am writing that name down for future novels! Anyway, I was happy to see that neither of them was turned into a rebellious teenager and neither of them fell in love (two things I was concerned would happen). I thought they looked older than twelve in the movie, but it didn’t really bother me. Poppy, Lina’s little sister, was adorable. I did imagine her a bit younger in the book, but the sheer cuteness of that little girl made up for it completely! The City itself was pretty true to the book, too, with the failing overhead lights and the crumbling buildings. The bigger plot points like needing to escape the dying city and following the map to escape stayed the same. Even some of the smaller details such as Poppy chewing on the Instructions and Lina going back for Poppy were surprisingly left in.

However, in their quest for excitement and suspense, the script writers couldn’t leave the book alone. In the movie, there was a giant mole that chased Lina and Doon and attacked the Mayor at the end. That never happened in the book. The entire sequence with the waterwheel also never appeared in the book’s pages. Minor characters changed or were added, such as Saul, the very sleepy Pipeworks manager. I could go on and on about the smaller differences from book to movie that were so irritating to me as someone who loved the book and hated to see any changes (such as the circular Instructions/map, Lina’s parents’ answering machine, the cards that formed a key – you get the picture), but still, they didn’t totally ruin the movie for me. The biggest and most irritating plot departure where I almost turned it off was the beginning sequence. In the novel, the overarching mystery, why the earth was covered in darkness, is not revealed until the end of the novel. In the movie, two minutes in and you know that Ember was underground and built for man’s protection. That made me pretty mad.

Even with all those negatives, I still enjoyed the movie, and I wasn’t pulling my hair out (too much) because of everything they changed. While it’s not a great adaptation of the book, it’s still worth watching. It was fun for me to see Ember all lit up at the bottom of the hole, Lina running around the city in her red Messenger’s coat, and Doon and Lina solving the puzzle. If you can get past the changes, it’s an enjoyable movie.

What did you think of this movie? If you saw it, what was your favorite part? Your biggest complaint? Comment below and tell me!

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

 

Author Profile – Brian Jacques

It all started with a book on tape set with a picture of a sword-wielding mouse on the cover. In fancy font the title read “Redwall.” This was my first experience with the world of Redwall Abbey and Mossflower Woods. I was 7 or 8 at the time, and the author Brian Jacques read the story himself. Initially, his thick English/Irish accent made it hard to understand him. Still, I was captivated by the epic story of Matthias the mouse as he tried to defend his abbey and discover the sword of Martin the Warrior. I’ve gone on to read many of the Redwall series, and I owe Brian Jacques for inspiring me to write my first 19,000 word “novel.” (I posted a sample of that novel which you can find here.) Today, I wanted to post a profile on Mr. Jacques as a way of sharing his works with those who haven’t heard of him and of learning more about the man who inspired me to start writing!

My shelf of Redwall books

My shelf of Redwall books

Brian Jacques was born in Liverpool, England. His father, who was a French truck driver, passed his love of reading, especially books by authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson, on to his young son. When Mr. Jacques was ten, he wrote a story for school about a bird who cleaned a crocodile’s teeth. It was so good his teacher was convinced that he had stolen the story. When Mr. Jacques insisted the story was his own, his teacher punished him. After telling the story in a Scholastic interview (link at the end), Mr. Jacques said, “I had always loved to write, but it was then that I realized that I had a talent for it.” At the age of fifteen, he went off to sea, and sailed to numerous ports all around the world such as New York and Yokohama. After a few years on the high seas, he returned home and worked at various jobs such as “a railway fireman, a longshoreman, a long-distance truck driver, a bus driver, a boxer, a bobby (Police Constable 216D), a postmaster, and a stand-up comic.” (from http://www.redwallabbey.com/) It was at one of his jobs, delivering milk, where Jacques met the blind children of Royal Wavertree School for the Blind. He later decided to write a story for them that would paint a picture so that the children could “see” the world of Mossflower. Mr. Jacques originally handwrote Redwall on 800 sheets of recycled paper, which he kept in a Safeway grocery bag. He never planned to publish his story, that was until his childhood English teacher Alan Durband secretly sent Redwall to a publisher. The publisher accepted the book, and Mr. Jacques had a contract to write the first five books of the Redwall series. Today, there are 21 books in the Redwall series. Sadly, Mr. Jacques died on February 5th, 2011 at the age of 71. His stories live on however, as Redwall has sold over 20 million copies and has been translated into 16 languages.

If you’ve never read any of Mr. Jacques’s books, I definitely recommend checking them out! They’re even better if you can hear them dramatized and read by him. I’m currently listening to The Taggerung. It’s been really good!

Here are a few interviews and biographies I used to help me write this post:

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/brian-jacques-interview-transcript

http://www.redwall.org/faq.php?page=1

http://www.famousauthors.org/brian-Jacques

Have you ever read a Brian Jacques book? If so, which one was your favorite? Comment below and tell me!

~ Kayla

What I’ve Read This Month

The books I've read this month

The books I’ve read this month

Today I’m posting what I’ve read this month! My goal was four books, and I ended up reading nine.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

In the kingdom of Carthya, a nobleman named Conner is rounding up orphan boys, one of whom is Sage, a rebellious and proud fourteen-year-old. Conner plans to train them to impersonate the missing prince of Carthya, allowing Conner to steal the throne. The boys who don’t make the cut will be killed. It was a great story, and it has a huge surprise twist at the end. Sage was an entertaining main character. I can’t wait to read the next two books in the trilogy!

Reached by Ally Condie

The Rising is staging a rebellion against the Society by releasing a plague that only they have the cure for. When the plague mutates, everyone starts working together in order to find a cure. I enjoyed Reached a whole lot more than Crossed. The story was much more exciting, and I enjoyed the twists and turns in each part. However, I still didn’t like how the author kept switching back and forth between viewpoints. Despite that complaint, Reached was a great conclusion to the trilogy.

The Pig Scrolls by Gryllus the Pig (Translated by Paul Shipton)

This very strange, wacky, laugh-out-loud book is the story of a talking pig. Now he really isn’t a pig, but a human crewmember of Odysseus’s ship who was transformed into a pig. As a pig, he is found by a girl named Sibyl who claims that only he can save the world. I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. I chose it because I thought it looked interesting, and it turned out to be both interesting and hysterically funny. Gryllus makes a great pig hero, and it’s an all-around great story. Mr. Shipton uses the Greek gods and goddesses as characters. I thought that would bother me, but he turned them into some of the funniest characters in the book. This book made me curious to check out some of Mr. Shipton’s other novels!

The Different Girl by Gordon Dahlquist

On an island live four identical girls who are being taught by their caretakers, Robbert and Irene. Then, a new girl named May arrives. She’s nothing like them, and her presence on the island makes the girls start to question the lives they’ve always lead. I read it all in one afternoon, but don’t let that fool you. It was AWFUL. The only reason I kept reading was because I was sure there was going to be a huge twist at the end, and suddenly the story would be great and wonderful, and I’d finally know what the four girls were. There was never any explanation, and it never got better. The characters were horrible. May was annoying, and I couldn’t keep the four girls straight. Robbert and Irene were boring characters. Mr. Dahlquist’s writing was very strange and hard to read as well.

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Stuck in a satellite high above the earth, Cress is forced to hack into earth’s computers for her Lunar captor. Meanwhile, Cinder and her friends are trying to escape and crash the royal wedding in order to save Emperor Kai. Cress was better than Scarlet, but still not as good as Cinder. As a character, I really liked Cress. She was sweet and had an interesting story. I couldn’t stand Thorne, Cress’s love interest and rescuer. I did like that there was less Scarlet and Wolf, my two least favorite characters, from the second book Scarlet. All in all, I enjoyed Cress, but it still didn’t match up to the legacy left by Cinder.

Surviving Antarctica Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White

Five fourteen-year-olds are chosen to be on a TV show called Historic Survivor Antarctica where they follow the path of the famous explorer Robert Scott and try to survive. I enjoyed the book. The concept was interesting, and the futuristic world and environment were very believable. I wasn’t a big fan of the writing style, as I thought she wrote this “Y” book in a way that seemed rather young. (The content wasn’t at all young, but the way she wrote it was. Does that make sense?) The kids were a bit hard to tell apart, and I honestly didn’t love any of them. All the characters had boring, everyday names, which contrasted oddly with the futuristic feel of the novel. I did enjoy the reference to The Fellowship of the Ring. 🙂

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

I mentioned in my author profile about Isaac Asimov (which you can find here) that I’d randomly picked this classic off the shelf to give it a try. I was expecting to find it hard to read, hard to finish, and slow paced. It was just the opposite. I loved I, Robot. It’s a collection of short stories set in a universe where robots are bound by the Three Laws of Robotics. My favorite stories were “Robbie” and “Liar!”

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

This is the classic novel of Pip’s life, taking him from a young orphan boy living with his sister and her husband to a young man with “great expectations.” I read this book for school, and I really enjoyed it. I was surprised how easy it was to read, and how much I ended up caring about Pip. My favorite characters were Wemmick and the “Aged P.”

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

I wrote a review on this book which you can find here.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Do you have any recommendations for me? If so, post them down in the comments!

~ Kayla

Book Review – The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

 

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Imagine if you lived in a city where the only light came from an underground electric generator, and all around you was the dark unknown. And now imagine that the generator was slowly dying, and your city was running out of supplies. That’s exactly the situation that the citizens of the City of Ember from Jeanne DuPrau’s novel find themselves in. That’s when two teens – Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow – discover a clue that might be the key to saving their home. It’s a fast-paced, puzzle solving, dystopian, escape story set in the fascinating dark world of Ember.

I picked this book off the shelf when I went book hunting a few weeks ago. I’d heard of The City of Ember before, but I had confused it with another book and thought it was a supernatural romance novel. After reading the summary on the inside of the front cover, I realized my mistake. I added it to my stack, and brought it home with me. I ended up loving the story way more than I thought I would.

I was completely taken in by the unique setting of The City of Ember in a way that I wasn’t expecting. The darkness around the safe, light-filled city added an air of mystery to the novel, leaving the reader wondering why the earth was so dark and what happened to the sunlight.

Just like the setting, the characters in this novel were interesting and unique. The main protagonist, Lina, was sympathetic and mature. I liked the way she took care of her little sister Poppy and her grandmother. I thought Lina had a personality all her own, and was an original character. The other protagonist, Doon, also felt very round and real. He was different from Lina, willing to take more risks, such as standing up to the mayor at the beginning of the novel. Doon was also like Lina in the fact that he wasn’t a whiny kid, but was mature enough to want to fix Ember’s generator and help save the city.

I also really liked the way Ms. DuPrau designed “The Instructions.” Doon and Lina had to first piece together “The Instructions” and then follow them, both of which were very believable. I liked that at first, they guessed wrong about the word at the top, reinforcing the idea that they were just normal kids. I can’t say any more because I don’t want to give it all away!

All in all, I loved The City of Ember. I’m glad I was wrong about it being a supernatural romance novel, and that I was able to read it! I’m especially glad that there’s a whole series of books about Ember to enjoy. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Lina, Doon, and Poppy! If you’re looking for a unique take on a dystopian story, I’d definitely recommend this novel.

~ Kayla

What I’ve Read This Month + Book Giveaway

Every month, I read at least four books and share them on my blog. This month, I’ve actually surpassed my goal and read nine books! Plus, I have a giveaway for any interested readers. Information about that is at the end of the post!

The books I read this month

The books I read this month

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

This is the second book in The Lunar Chronicles series. In this story, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing, and she will do anything to find her again. Together with a mysterious boy named Wolf, she tries to find her grandmother. Meanwhile, Cinder (from the first novel) has escaped from prison and is on the run, trying to avoid the Queen of Luna. I loved Cinder, the first book in the series, but I didn’t enjoy Scarlet nearly as much. I couldn’t decide if I liked Scarlet and Wolf. Many times I just found them annoying. I really disliked another character named Thorne. However, I did think the idea behind the book and the way the author adapted the Red Riding Hood story to fit the dystopian world she created was brilliant. I just wasn’t crazy about the execution of that idea.

Theodore Boone: The Activist by John Grisham

In this latest installment of the Theodore Boone series, Theodore is accused of theft and vandalism. He also becomes involved in fighting against a new law being passed that will wipe out one of his friend’s family’s home. I really enjoyed this Theo book, and I’m hoping that Mr. Grisham will write another shortly!

Rebel Fire (AKA Red Leech) by Andrew Lane

In the second book of the Young Sherlock Holmes series, Sherlock travels to America to help Amyus Crowe track down the killer of Abraham Lincoln. I was really looking forward to this book as it’s set in the USA, and I was curious to see how Mr. Lane, a British writer, wrote about America. I thought he did a good job! Mr. Lane also has a knack for creating villians that make you want to go, “EWW!!!” and this latest one was no exception to the rule. *shivers*

Fire Storm by Andrew Lane

This is the fourth and latest book of the Young Sherlock Holmes series, and it ended on a cliffhanger. I cannot wait to find out what happens! Sherlock’s tutor Amyus Crowe and Crowe’s daughter Virginia disappear, and Sherlock goes after them. It turns out, Crowe is on the run, hiding from a bloodthirsty villain. There’s a little bit of romance in this latest book, but I did enjoy it as I like both characters involved, and I kind of figured it was coming for a while now.

Crossed by Ally Condie

This is the second book in the Matched triology and another second book I wasn’t so crazy about. In this book, Cassia is dermined to find Ky again. When she’s sent to the outer provinces, she runs with another girl named Indie in order to find Ky and hopefully join the Rising, the rebellion against the Society. In the first book, I really enjoyed reading about the Society and their way of life (probably because I’m a dystopian writer myself) almost more than the characters’ stories. With less of the Society in this book, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. I also didn’t like how the point of view was switched back and forth from Ky to Cassia all through the book.

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

While on a walking holiday, Dr. Elwin Ransom is kidnapped by two men, Weston and Dick Devine. He is taken to a space ship and flown to the planet of “Malacandra.” There, Dr. Ransom guesses he is some sort of sacrifice and runs for it, meeting the creatures that live on that planet. I really enjoyed this book. C.S. Lewis is a good writer in any genre!

Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

The play is the story of a French hero who is witty and charming, with one flaw: his enormous nose. He has fallen in love with his cousin, Roxane, but she is in love with the handsome cadet Christian de Neuvillette. The only problem is that Christian lacks the wit to woo Roxane, so Cyrano comes up with the plan to combine their strengths to create one perfect hero, one with Cyrano’s wit and Christian’s good looks. I read this play for school and really enjoyed it! It was a classic tale of love and honor. I also watched a movie version of it and did a review which you can find here: https://concerningwriting.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/book-to-movie-cyrano-de-bergerac/

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

This was another school reading assignment. The Importance of Being Earnest is the story of a man name Jack Worthing. Jack claims to have an unprincipled younger brother named Ernest who lives in town. Because of his unprincipled and immoral ways, Jack must visit his brother all the time to try and straighten out the messes he creates. However, when Jack is in town, he actually becomes Ernest Worthing, so that he can do what he wants to do and no one will know about it in the country. The play gets more complicated than this with romantic entanglements and long lost relatives, turning it into a crazy and laugh-out-loud Victorian comedy! This was definitely one of my favorite classics that I read this year.

Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World edited by C. J. Mahaney

We read this book out loud as a family in the evenings. The book is about living in the world as Christians, but not becoming worldly, and staying Christ-centered. And this is where the giveaway comes in. Worldiness is the book I’m giving away. This is an pretty informal giveaway, as I’m not sure if this is the type of book any of my readers enjoy. If you’d like the book and are in the U.S. (sorry to my non-U.S. friends), comment below and tell me that you would. If I end up having more than one comment, I’ll use a random number generator and choose a winner that way. If you are the winner, I’ll shoot you an email to let you know and mail it out to you. The winner will be announced on the blog on Friday. All right, if you’d like the book (I’d recommend it!), comment below!

The giveaway book

Worldliness – The book I’m giving away

Have you read any of these books? If so, which ones? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to comment for the giveaway.

~ Kayla