Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Testing how to post pictures.

Maximum Ride. The greatest female protagonist of anything ever. Her adventures end in August. I'll try and review it once I get it for my birthday (which is the following month). Mostly, I'm just doing this so I know how to post pictures on this thing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Going on an indefinite break.

For anyone who has been reading this, you've probably noticed I haven't been doing much lately. Well, my explanation is that I have been very busy with real life stuff lately. I'm looking for work, I'm writing novels and FanFiction, and this blog is more something I do when I'm not doing those things. I might continue this in the future, but it would probably be on an irregular basis rather than weekly. I wanna continue this, but first I want to have some non-Centrelink income.

Until next time (if there is one), seeya.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Holes review

Holes by Louis Sachar
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998, 241 pages

Have you ever dug a hole? If so, have you dug a hole five feet deep? If so, have you dug a hole five feet deep in the scorching heat? Stanley Yelnats has. This week’s review is that of Louis Sachar’s hit children’s book (later a moderately successful Disney movie) Holes.
The general idea for Holes came from Sachar returning home from a fairly cool Maine vacation to a very hot Texas summer. Normally, Sachar thinks of the characters for his book first. However, this time he thought of the place first: Camp Greenlake, where there was no lake (anymore) and almost nothing was green. The reason for this was that the lake, once the biggest in the state, had evaporated after a hundred or so years of no rain, turning it into a barren desert. The main character’s last name, Yelnats, is his first name backwards (because they don’t mention it enough in the book).
Anyway, Holes is the story of a boy named Stanley Yelnats IV, who was walking home from school when he was attacked by a pair of sneakers. Okay, not so much attacked, more that they landed on him from above. Anyway, he was arrested for theft of the sneakers because it was impossible for him to convince the judge that hey came from the sky. Stanley’s choices were either prison or 18 months at Camp Greenlake. Having never been to camp, Stanley opted for that. What he expected: a stereotypical American summer camp. What he got: a child correctional facility in the middle of the desert.
For the course of their sentence, the boys at the camp were to dig one hole per day, the length of his shovel down and across (approximately 5 feet). Once that was done, they could do whatever they wanted. However, if they found anything interesting, they could take the rest of the day off. Eventually, Stanley finds an empty lipstick tube with the initials KK on it (don’t worry; there’s no extra K there). Suddenly, the mysterious Warden who never left her cabin has come out, and demands the area around the hole dug up. But for what? As well as this, the book has a few flashbacks to Elya Yelnats, who accidentally stole a pig from a gypsy, making him Stanley’s “no good, dirty rotten, pig stealing great-great-grandfather”; and to Catherine Barlow, a teacher when Greenlake was actually a lake.
A fun fact about my history with this book: I’ve actually had to read it twice during the course of my education (once in Year 9, once during my second year of TAFE). It is one of the only books I read in high school I actually tolerated (The others being Macbeth and Don’t Start Me Talking: The Lyrics of Paul Kelly). As long as the kids ignore the large number of coincidences in the book, I’m sure they’ll enjoy it.

My rating: 7/10
Any suggestions, post them below

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe review

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Geoffrey Bles, 1950, 208 pages

YAY! I made it to ten reviews. This is the longest running New Year’s Resolution of all time. Well, might as well get into it. Review number ten is of the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia series . . . at least, the first one written (this is what happens when you don’t plan ahead).
The origins of this book are almost a century old. Back when Lewis was sixteen (1914 or 15) he saw a picture of a faun carrying an umbrella and a parcel. Then, when he was about forty (circa 1939) he decided to make a story out of it. It was around 1939 that he was given three children. Not his own, but children that were evacuated from London to avoid bomb raids (remember, this was WWII people). The edition of the book I read contained a letter from Lewis to his god-daughter Lucy, saying that he was writing the book for her, though when he finished it she’d be too old for fairy tales, and when it was published she’d be older still, so he wouldn’t know what she thought of it until he was too deaf to hear. Well, he was right, though with a different sort of ‘deaf’ (too soon?)
The plot actually does relate to the kids being brought to Lewis’s house quite strongly. The characters (Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy), were evacuated from London during WWII to escape the bomb raids. They ended up living with an old professor, who owned a large house with many mysteries in it. One rainy day, they four of them were exploring the house, and found a room with nothing more than an old wardrobe in it. The other three left the room, but Lucy wanted to look inside the wardrobe. She opened it, and saw only coats. She went into the wardrobe, reaching for what she assumed would be the back of the wardrobe. However, what she found was another world, covered entirely in snow.
While there, she met a faun by the name of Mr. Tumnus, who informed her that the queen of Narnia, The White Witch, was on the lookout for children, and that anyone who saw them was to report it to her or be turned to stone. Lucy returned to her own world, expecting that hours had passed, when in fact only seconds had passed. After a little while, Edmund had stumbled across Narnia too, but he found The White Witch. She offered to make him king of Narnia, in exchange for bringing his brother and sisters to her. Can The White Witch get all four of the kids before Aslan the Lion shows up to stop her? (I had to say something about the lion; he’s one of the title characters).
It was odd seeing several very Christian references (i.e. “it’s always winter, but never Christmas”) but there’s a high level of magic use (i.e. the dark arts). I’m gonna let that slide since it’s a children’s book (and not a bad one at that), but still, maybe I’m just looking into it too hard.

My rating: 7/10

Any suggestions, post them below

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Book Of Lies review

The Book of Lies by James Moloney
HarperCollins, 2004, 392 pages

I’ve decided that this week I’ll review something a bit outside what I normally review (i.e. famous books that everyone has already read). I’m reviewing a book from another Australian author, who wrote has written a very family-friendly fantasy adventure (wait, is this review really putting me outside my comfort zone?)
The concept for this one came from O. J. Simpson’s trial (when you know what the book’s about, this will shock you). They were using lie detectors to gain evidence, which wasn’t particularly effective, which gave Moloney the idea of a lie detector that couldn’t fail. That’s how it started, before Moloney realised that there’d have to be something to corrupt it, otherwise there’d be no drama. However, he later came up with something to corrupt it, and it was back to work on this fairly unknown masterpiece. This book was originally going to be a stand alone novel, but as Moloney finished this book he felt compelled to write a sequel, and then another sequel (don’t worry, he stopped after that).
The story is about a boy who finds himself at Mrs. Timmins’ Home for Foundlings and Orphans. He has no memory of who he is, except for a vague memory of the name Robert. During the course of his first day, a girl by the name of Beatrice (another orphan at the house) tells him that last night, she spied on him being brought to the house, then Lord Alwyn (the wizard who lives in the tower above the house) tried to hypnotise him, and would have succeeded too if Beatrice hadn’t of interfered. All she could tell him about himself was his name: Marcel.
Marcel knowing his name has suddenly put Lord Alwyn in a panic. He makes Marcel tell him everything he knows about this name in front of The Book of Lies, a magical book that records every lie it hears within its pages. Once satisfied with the responses, Lord Alwyn forces Marcel to wear a magical ring. The ring tells Lord Alwyn if Marcel escapes, and he will send Termagant (the fierce looking cat-like creature) after him. However, after a stranger tells him that he’s a friend of their father’s, Marcel decides to do whatever it takes to escape the orphanage, with Beatrice there to help him.
A magical adventure for kids who just finished Narnia (actually, that would be a great idea for my tenth review), Marcel’s journey through the land of Elster will keep the young ones wanting more, more, MORE . . . until they finish the series of course. Oh, and adults might like it too.

My rating: 8/10

Any suggestions, post them below

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Lightning Thief review

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Hyperion Books, 2005, 384 pages
How often have you been accused of something you didn’t do? Eating the last cookie, that smell in the elevator, stealing Zeus’s lightning bolt, that sort of thing? Well, twelve year old Percy Jackson has been accused of that last one, and in case you hadn’t already guessed, it’s a VERY bad thing to have a god mad at you.
The concept for this book comes from Riordan’s son Haley. He asked his dad to tell him the stories about the gods and heroes in Greek mythology. Riordan, who actually taught Greek myths, agreed to. After a while, he ran out of stories, much to his son’s disappointment. Then, the idea came to make up a new story with the same characters. Riordan soon came up with a story about a boy named Percy Jackson, who was on a quest across America to recover Zeus’s lightning bolt. It took three nights to tell, and at the end Haley told his dad he should write it up as a book. A year later the first Percy Jackson was written.
The story opens on a school field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Percy gets attacked by his maths teacher Mrs. Dodds, who turned out to be one of the three furies. After turning her to dust, he asks about her with other students and Mr. Brunner (the Greek teacher who accompanied Mrs. Dodds on the field trip), but none of them knew who he was talking about. Everyone thought that he was referring to Mrs. Kerr, a teacher who suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Only Percy’s friend Grover seemed to have any indication of remembering her, though he tried to deny it.
After getting home for the year, his mother takes him on a vacation, away from Percy’s abusive step-dad Gabe. However, that night during a huge storm, Grover showed up and told them that something was after them. Percy, his mum and Grover then flee through the night, only to be caught by the Minotaur near their destination. Percy manages to defeat the beast, but not before it takes away his mother. Their destination was Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for kids who were half-human and half-god. It’s there that Percy learns a lot about himself and the world around him: he is the son of a god (read the book to find out which one), Zeus’s lightning bolt is missing, and Zeus thinks he has it. When a hellhound attacks the camp, Percy is sent on a quest with Grover (who is actually a satyr) and Annabeth (a fellow camper and daughter of a goddess) to retrieve the lightning bolt and return it to Olympus within ten days.
A good, fast-paced, humorous read for young adults, though I do have some criticism. Despite being set entirely in America (and in a couple of places from Greek mythology), frequently there are uses of the metric system (why I picked up on that, I don’t know). Once your kids are done with Harry Potter, get them reading this.
My rating: 7/10

Any suggestions, post them below

The Fellowship Of The Ring review

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
George and Allen Unwin, 1954, 531 pages

I could have sworn I posted this last week. Oh well, I'll do two this week.
The oldest book I’ve reviewed so far (beating the old record by 25 years); this week I take you behind a classic piece of literature twelve years in the making. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my review of the one ring to rule them all, the one ring to find them, the one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
As all of you should know (though sadly only known by many), “The Hobbit” was written by J. R. R. Tolkien back in 1937. Due to its overwhelming success, the publishers requested a sequel. Tolkien declined at first, since he didn’t have any ideas. When he finally thought of a sequel though, he warned that he writes very slowly (I guess twelve years qualifies as slow). Originally, “The Silmarillion” was going to be published alongside “Lord of the Rings”. However, the publishers had no confidence in the former (idiots) and publication was stopped until summer 1952, when Tolkien gave in and published “The Fellowship of the Ring”.
The story begins with Bilbo Baggins’ eleventy first birthday party. At the party, he makes a speech where, at the end, he announces that he is leaving. As he steps down, he vanishes in a blinding light, confusing all but two people: Gandalf the Grey, a wizard and dear friend of Bilbo; and Frodo Baggins, Bilbo’s heir and nephew. What actually happened was that Bilbo had slipped on a ring, a ring with the power to make people disappear. During the confusion, Bilbo and Gandalf snuck away from the party so they could talk in private about the ring. After a heated discussion, Bilbo agrees to leave the ring to Frodo, as well as everything else he left in Bag End (his home).
It was many years before Frodo learnt from Gandalf that the ring was actually The One Ring; a ring with powers of extreme evil, and needs to be destroyed. Gandalf tells Frodo that he must leave The Shire soon, since if he doesn’t, servants of Sauron will come and take it from him and a new reign of darkness shall rule. Frodo, with friends Sam, Pippin and Merry, must now travel across the wide world of Middle-Earth, hunted by Ringwraithes (the dark riders that seek Frodo and The Ring) and finding their way to Rivendell, where (hopefully) Gandalf is waiting for them.
I already know that giving this a negative review will see me thrown into a volcano in New Zealand (let’s see if anyone gets that reference), but seriously, why would I give a bad review to an epic masterpiece that Tolkien reviewed over and over and over again? There’s a reason people love these books.

My rating: 8.5/10

Any suggestions, post them below