Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

"'Another world is colliding with this one,' said the toad. 'All the monsters are coming back.'

'Why?' said Tiffany.

'There's no one to stop them.'

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, 'There's me.'

Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnapped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk's local Nac Mac Feegle - aka the Wee Free Men - a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds - black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors - before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone...."

This review is gonna be short, but I have to say: major props to Terry Pratchett for his characters. Tiffany is unapologetic, no-nonsense, and sensible, and is one of the best characters I've seen in a while. She's not fluttery, beautiful, or prone to singing: she knows what has to be done and uses her common sense and cleverness to do it. She defends herself with a frying pan, for God's sake. Words cannot express how much of a breath of fresh air this girl is. If anything, read the book for her--and the Feegles. They, equipped with ridiculous names, terrible poetry, and the idea that the solution for anything is a good loud stampede, make the book really colorful. This book's funny and written really well. Trust me--I have about twenty slips of paper in my copy to prove it. Dear lord, just read this book. No regrets here whatsoever. There's a copy at Kettleson and Mt. Edgecumbe.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

"'From now on I'm Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I'll be a knight.' 
And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. 
But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. 
Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's first adventure begins -- one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land."

So I'm having a horrible weekend of being sick, and found my old copy of this somewhere out of the blue. Needless to say, it was my couch buddy. And, since I haven't reviewed this before, I figured I'd enlighten y'alls that haven't read this fabulous woman's work. I basically grew up with this series, and roughly seven years later, I still love reading it. Let me explain why: Alanna is the most amazingly awesome role model for any girl. She basically goes, "gender roles? What the heck is the point?" and does what she's determined to do. She's stubborn and headstrong but also very innocent in a way, which she has to learn to leave behind fast and use cleverness and quick thinking. Tamora Pierce has this rare writing where it entrances kids and teenagers and adults all in one fell swoop. I honestly can't say enough good about this series and this author; she's responsible for a good part of my childhood and I still love her today. This book in particular is at Keet, Blatchley, SHS, Mt. Edgecumbe, and Kettleson... and I'm gonna stare at you virtually through this screen until you read it. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and Neil Gaiman

"Stephen is used to invisibility. He was born that way. Invisible. Cursed.

Elizabeth sometimes wishes for invisibility. When you’re invisible, no one can hurt you. So when her mother decides to move the family to New York City, Elizabeth is thrilled. It’s easy to blend in there.

Then Stephen and Elizabeth meet. To Stephen’s amazement, she can see him. And to Elizabeth’s amazement, she wants him to be able to see her—all of her. But as the two become closer, an invisible world gets in their way—a world of grudges and misfortunes, spells and curses. And once they’re thrust into this world, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how deep they’re going to go—because the answer could mean the difference between love and death."

I really liked this one. It kept me really entertained, and for the first time in a while, made me bring it to school in order to finish it in two days. It could have easily gone the little-kid, generic route with the invisibility thing, but it took it to a new level and tried to put me in his shoes and made it--in a weird way--believable. I really loved the depiction of him having to be completely and utterly removed from society, it was really vivid. Also, even the supporting characters were incredibly awesome--you know the author's done a good job when you could pick any supporting character and want to read a separate book solely about them. Really good and witty dialogue all around. And I guess there's not much more to say: it's a great story with wonderful characters, good writing, and a generally engaging plot. Not much reason not to read it, so why are you still sitting there? There's a copy at Kettleson.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

"In order to restore their dying safe haven, the son of Poseidon and his friends embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece while trying to stop an ancient evil from rising."

So, I'm doing something a little different this week: movie review! This is mostly spurred on by the desire to rant about this movie 'cause it was, um, astounding. In many ways. Let me begin by saying this: it was resoundingly, wonderfully, hilariously awful. In continuity terms anyway. Seriously, you thought the first movie went off the book? Nope, the screenwriters were just getting warmed up. I kid you not, I think that they opened up the book at random after writing about ten pages of script, put the random scene in, commenced to improvise for the next ten pages, and then the cycle started all over again. They changed actors, made up characters, scrambled to introduce ones that should've been in the first one, jumped the gun on some fragmented future plotlines (can you say 'prophecy?'), and OH YEAH, basically made up everything from halfway in to the end. My friends and I moved past the 'nudge each other when they get something wrong' phase within ten minutes, which morphed into 'nudge each other when they actually get something remotely right.' Which didn't happen often.
BUT. Having said that, I will freely point out that the second movie was a lot like the first: if you ignore the book, it's actually kinda good. Sure, a little cheesy at times, but really not too bad. Stanley Tucci and Nathan Fillion helped a lot with the comedy factor (and I mean, jeez, that man can slip a Firefly reference into anything). If you squashed your sobbing inner book-lover, you'd really enjoy it. I even did, in between being outraged at the writers. So, honestly? It might be worth it. If you've never read the books or are willing to set them aside, go see it. If you're afraid of it spoiling the book for you, don't worry. You can basically treat it like it's not even remotely related. But yeah! It's downtown this week in the Coliseum, maybe go check it out...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

"Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall."

This is one of those books that you can't really get with a blurb. The general idea that the blurb talks about is the same, but the story isn't really well presented by this little snippet. When I first read it I pictured her as the sole guardian of all these stacks, when in fact in the book it's more of a case of one foot in both worlds: she's one of many Keepers who live in the real world and, when called upon, enters the Archive to deal with problems. I liked the way it panned out in the book more than the "hardened lone watchman" vibe from the blurb. Anyway, to the actual book. I liked it. I really did, and it grew on me the more I read. Mac comes across as very real, and the writing (if I wanted to be really pompous I'd say "the prose") was very captivating, fluid, and easy to read. My favorite character was one not even mentioned in the overview: Wesley, a guy she meets out in the real world that's more than he seems--not mentioning the witty comebacks, forgivable guyliner, and adorable ego. Seriously, if nothing else, read the book for him. He's a great character. Sure, the book had a couple little weaknesses here and there, like making me read twenty pages before realizing Da wasn't her dad, but her grandfather, and the fact that the villain wasn't too difficult to guess halfway through, but that's really little stuff. It was still really interesting to read and easy to get through. Good mysteries, too. Really, there's not much to like, so what are you waiting for? Go get it at Sitka High or Kettleson, seriously, you won't be sorry.