September 30, 2008
Paula is accompanying her father on a trip to the city of Istanbul to aquire a certain special artifact. Paula knows, from her extensive research, that the Cybele’s Gift is a special antique of the ancient goddess, Cybele, rumored to be able to bring fortune and luck to whatever family owns it.
Of course, Paula and her father are not the only ones seeking Cybele’s Gift. There are many merchants in the race, all hoping to be able to collect it. When they arrive in Istanbul, they discover that Salem bin Afazi, Paula’s father’s colleague, has been murdered, the killer unknown. Suddenly, they must watch their steps more carefully than they ever have before.
This is one of those books. Addicting and lovely. Ever since I read its prequel, Wildwood Dancing, I’ve been excited for this book, and it didn’t let me down.
Paula was an exciting narrator. The ending was kind of predictable, even if I couldn’t precisely tell how it was going to come about, but I liked the unexpected, uncertain events that happened before everything was resolved.
September 28, 2008
The blurb on the book:
Spencer thought the house might be haunted.
MItch knew it wasn’t. And he knew why.
The whole time Spencer and Mitch hung out together at Bird Lake that summer, there were secrets keeping them apart.
And maybe a secret knowledge keeping them together, too–together like members of the same tribe. Like friends.
This was a good book. Lots of the emotions were brilliantly portrayed. And yet… I didn’t really fall into this book. It seemed to me like there was too much tell, not enough show, and not enough story. It had one of those not-completely-ended-because-you-know-the-rest endings. The problem was, I didn’t really know.
I think I would have liked this book better had it been simpler and perhaps longer. It seemed to be a book about children to adults, rather than a book about children, to children.
Bird Lake Moon was a nice book, but it wasn’t particularly capturing. I don’t know. It’s a hard book to describe.
September 20, 2008
by Jordan Sonnenblick
Of all the annoying things in Steven’s life, his little brother Jeffrey is the worst. Not only is he several years younger and succeeds to embarrass Steven in front of his crush, he also adoringly follows Steven around.
But suddenly, Jeffrey gets a nosebleed and it won’t stop. He’s rushed to the hospital, and Steven is confronted with horrible news: Jeffrey is sick-terribly sick. All of a sudden, Steven is forced to deal with all the stuff he’s taken for granted before, along with a lot more.
I did write a previous review about this book, but I found it stupid and decided to start again. That said, I have two things to say:
1. I possibly would not have finished this book if it was not my required reading for Language Arts, and
2. I am absolutely glad I did read it, and that I read it all.
I think, initially, that I was put off this book because of Steven’s excessive complaining. And also, perhaps, because Steven was a boy and I don’t usually read books narrated by boys, so his world was a little alien. But I really liked Jeffrey, and I suppose Steven grew on me. I’ve never experienced anything near to what Steven did, but I now I guess I know a little of how it would feel.
So this isn’t a favorite book. But it is a memorable book. And I am glad I read it.
September 13, 2008
Benevolence (Ben) is the niece of the king of Montagne. But when the king and Ben’s mother is killed in a mysterious attack, and Ben’s father disappears, Ben becomes the heir to the throne, because Queen Sophia, her uncle’s wife, has not produced any children.
The conninving Queen Sophia becomes the queen regent, and Ben, being the heir apparent, is subjected to torturous princess training.
But Ben, locked up in a tower at night, discovers a secret room, where she teaches herself magic. She is certain that her father and mother where attacked by the Drachensbett, the neighbors and enemies of Montagne. And she will avenge her parents.
Initially, when I started reading, I had a strong feeling this was just another novel about a tomboy princess. But it wasn’t. I was pleasantly surprised.
I loved the way the story mixed in elements from fairy tales. And I really enjoyed Ben’s first-person’s narrative. It’s one of those old-fashioned-y narratives that include words not used very much anymore but not quite archaic yet.
Ben was fun, this book was fun. I really enjoyed reading it.
September 5, 2008
by Jaclyn Moriarty, read by various narrators, 8 CDs
Lydia, Emily, and Cassie are being forced to write to Brookfield kids, as an assignment their English teacher, Mr. Botherit, has required. As Brookfield and the girls’ school, Ashbury, has often been at feuds, the girls are somewhat unwilling.
Both Emily and Lydia receive positive letters back, which surprises them. But when they find that Cassie’s partner, Matthew, has threatened her (and has seriously hurt her), they decide to fight back.
This book was written as a series of letters, emails, and diary entries. I’ve never been that big a fan of such books, because I find they have a tendency to tell more than show, but if that happened in this book, I honestly didn’t notice.
The Year of Secret Assignments was fun and entertaining. I had a brilliant time rushing through the CDs as fast as I could, and I found myself seriously wanting to listen to more even when I should have been doing school stuff (although I didn’t let myself.)
Lydia and Emily and Cassie (along with Charlie and Seb, their corrospondents) are all so real and believable, I would definitely not mind knowing them in real life. This book was fantastic.