Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Other Side of the Island

    The cover of this book was actually the thing that caught my eye.  I mean, you look at it and you could imagine the story going a bunch of different ways.  I never would've guessed the way it actually went.
    In The Other Side of the Island, by Allegra Goodman, a girl named Honor moves from the North with her mother and father to Island 365.  Island 365 is very different than the North.  For example, the sky is artificially colored a different color for every hour of the day.  Honor can't go out after dark, and in school she learns all about the Earth Mother, who supposedly is protecting everyone on Island 365.  The Earth Mother keeps them safe with The Enclosure, an invisible shield that surrounds all the islands.
    In school, Honor also becomes friends with a boy her age, named Helix.  The class that is most difficult for Honor, is geography.  In geography, she studies maps of the many islands in the Tranquil Sea.                                                            After a while, Honor realizes that her family is different from the rest of the inhabitants of the island in many ways.  "Different" islanders "disappear."
    Honor must decide what is more important; being true to herself and saving her family, or fitting in with the others on the island.
    I loved this book.  It is suspenseful, it is mysterious... it clearly describes a world that very well may become our future.  I recommend this book to anyone who loves a mystery, and who likes stories about alternate realities; possibly in the future.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Metamorphosis

 When it comes to books, I like reading just about anything. From the unknown
 eldritch horrors of H.P. Lovecraft to the charming humor of Brian Jacques, I’ve
read and loved it all. Occasionally, I’ll find books that truly define genre borders,
and cross into the no-mans’ land in between. Recently, I found one of those oddly
mixed books. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is definitely one of the 
strangest books I’ve ever read, but I enjoyed it very much. It manages to take a
bizarre, slightly morbid story about a man who wakes up and finds that he has
become an oversized insect, and add humor to it. The book’s story is rather 
unsettling and even sad, but the humor laced into the thoughts of the unfortunate
insect really adds new dimension to the story. The cast of characters is small, 
and most of the book is read through the perspective of a rational insect in a small
bedroom. In my opinion this small setting doesn’t remove anything from the story.
Rather, it adds to it, and makes it even more surreal. This was an excellent book
despite its oddity, and I would recommend it to anyone who isn’t liable to be 
grossed out by a large insect!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Picture of Dorian Gray

For one of my school subjects this year, 
I get to read through some classic books,
 and have been really enjoying them so far.
 I’ve read Frankenstein, Last of the Mohicans,
Crime and Punishment, and many more.
Just recently, I finished reading  
The Picture of Dorian Gray. It’s a philosophical
 book with some elements of a good psychological
 horror. The story shows an innocent man’s
 descent into a life of immorality and evil after a
picture is painted of him. Well, it’s more than just
the painting of the picture that sparks the change in him. He realizes how
good looking he is, and falls in love with his own appearance after seeing the
masterfully painted picture. He spontaneously wishes that all signs
of his own age and evil will go into the painting instead. Unbeknownst
 to him at first, his wish is granted.

After a while, he becomes more and more selfish and causes
 immeasurable pain to several people. He also begins to realize
 that his wish has come true as the painting becomes more
 and more hideous, reflecting the person he is becoming inside.
 As the painting changes he becomes more and more paranoid 
about it being discovered, going to greater and greater lengths to
hide his true nature. The book is full of twists and turns, and has a
stunning ending that left me thinking for a while.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Ruins of Gorlan: Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1

   A long time ago, a few friends of mine recommended  a book series that they absolutely loved, called "Ranger's Apprentice".  At the time, I was probably reading Percy Jackson, or Harry Potter, or Redwall, so I couldn't read it, and then forgot about it. Then, just the other day, I was at the library looking for something to read, and the first book in the series, The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan, caught my eye. I grabbed it off the shelf and went home. Often times, I can determine how much I enjoy a book by how quickly I read it. I devoured this one in a matter of hours, and went to go get the next few in the series!
     John Flanagan is a fantastic author. He manages to create a world that seems not too far off from our own distant past, while still maintaining its uniqueness and individuality. I loved reading about the brave Araluens, the evil Morgorath and his Wargal soldiers, and the seafaring mercenary Skandians. The books revolve mostly around a young boy, Will, who becomes apprenticed to one of the King's Rangers, mysterious hooded figures who help keep the peace around the kingdom. The books are full of high adventure, bravery, chivalry, and memorable characters. I'm still reading through the series myself, and definitely encourage you to check out the series, too! 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Chronicles of Narnia series, favorites

Another audio book/series I listened to as a young child was the Chronicles of Narnia series.
If you haven’t heard of the Chronicles of Narnia, it’s a fantasy series written by C.S. Lewis.
He wrote and released the books in one order, and then rearranged them into a 
chronological order. The series is all about young people from our world being summoned
in various ways to a magical land called Narnia. Each time they are summoned by a 
mysterious and powerful Lion named Aslan. Over the past few weeks I’ve been re-listening
to a few of my favorites in the series.
Book #3-The Horse and His Boy. This story is different than all of the others, since the entire book centers around a character who lives in the world of Narnia, rather than a visitor from our world. It’s all about a boy named Shasta, who lives in a country that is close to the southern borders of Narnia. Two horses, he and another child have to escape to Narnia, and on the way each learns an important lesson about their own shortcomings.
Book #6-The Silver Chair. Two children from our world are summoned to Narnia to find a lost prince and save him from an evil witch and her enchantments. This book is one of my favorites because C.S. Lewis does an even better job than usual of creating instantly classic and loveable characters, no matter how depressed and moping they are all the time.
Book #7-The Last Battle. In this book, the last King of Narnia, two children from our world, and a small group of Narnians who are still loyal to Aslan must fight to survive and remember the true nature of Aslan. As you read through the books, it becomes increasingly more obvious that C.S. Lewis wrote the book as an allegory for his Christian beliefs. In this book in particular, as Aslan stands and brings forth the end of Old Narnia and the beginning of New Narnia, it is clear that these excellent books were never just about adventure, but something much deeper.
Overall, this is one of my favorite series of all time. It blends excellent storytelling with important moral lessons to create a story for the ages. Children, teenagers, and adults throughout the years have enjoyed these books and continue to enjoy them. This is one of series I would recommend to anyone without fear of them not enjoying it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Cricket in Times Square

When I was really young, I used to listen to The Cricket  in Times Square on audio book all the time. It was a huge part of my childhood, and so I decided to revisit that this week, and listen to it once more. The Cricket in Times Square was written in 1960 by George Selden and illustrated by Garth Williams.
It’s a very short book, but it’s definitely one of my top books. The characters are so quaint and quirky, it’s hard not to fall in love with them. Each character is richly put together and George Selden did an excellent job in creating realistic scenarios, even with talking animals.

Occasionally, you’ll forget that animals don’t really talk, and that this couldn’t possibly be a true story. My favorite thing about this book is how well the author displays the locations in the book to you. You are able to picture every place in your mind’s eye, whether it be newsstand, drain-pipe, or Chinese novelty shop. If you enjoy reading books with incredibly rich visual descriptions, well rounded characters, and happy endings, then this book is for you!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

 Cornelia Funke is a very well-known and widely recognized author for her Inkheart trilogy. Many people have read the books, or at least watched the Inkheart movie. However, I think her best piece is a beautiful book called Dragon Rider.
In the book, a dragon named Firedrake, a forest brownie named Sorrell, and a human boy named Ben go on a quest to find the Rim of Heaven, former home of the dragons, hidden deep in the Himalayas. But they are not alone in their search. Nettlebrand, the villainous great golden dragon, is hunting them along with his spies.
The book is masterfully written, with beautiful descriptions of mountains, rivers, and deserts. The characters are instantly loveable, and it’s incredibly creative as well, with all sorts of fabulous and fantastic creatures filling its pages. There are dragons, brownies, dwarves, fairies, and so much more!

And not only that, but Funke’s book has themes of love, compassion, bravery, selflessness, friendship, and forgiveness. It also strongly shows how good can always come from the most evil things. This is definitely within my top 10 all-time favorite books, and I hope you’ll read it and enjoy it as much as I have.