Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Shadow Over Innsmouth

A while back I discovered an author some people will
 recognize who went by the name of H.P. Lovecraft. Most people
 would know him as the man behind the creation of the mythical
 being known as Cthulu. His books revolve around eldritch beings
 and strange horrors and the fates of the poor mortals who are
 unlucky enough to stumble across them. His word choice and
sometimes murky way of writing all come together to form
psychologically frightening and masterfully written stories about
ancient evils and man’s attempts to confront them. His books have
a strange feel to them, and often end with a twist.

My personal favorite H.P. Lovecraft book is, “The Shadow Over
 Innsmouth.” In this book the main character, a young man celebrating
his coming of age  by traveling through New England, discovers a
strange town by the name of Innsmouth. As he wanders the town
he finds increasingly dark secrets about it and its strange denizens.  

The latter half of the book is dedicated to his daring escape from the
 town and subsequent revelations and realizations. I love this book
 partially because of the hero. He’s quick-thinking, rational, and
 displays all the characteristics we aren’t used to from characters
 in horror books or movies. This book is fantastic, and gives you a
 little shudder after you turn the last page. I definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Out of The Silent Planet

Most people have heard of C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. However, 
what they don’t always realize is that Lewis wrote many other books as well, 
including a trilogy set in space. The Space Trilogy, as it is aptly named, follows 
a professor named Elwin Ransom in his journeys through space.
The first book, Out of the Silent Planet, shows Ransom’s rather rough 
introduction to space, when he is kidnapped and forced aboard a spaceship that 
whisks him off to Malacandra (Mars).  Upon arrival, he evades his captors and 
escapes into the beautiful, frightening, alien world, full of strange colorful landscapes
and creatures. As he travels the planet, he learns that not all is as he first thought. 
He meets bizarre aliens, learns about the origins of the universe, and realizes that 
man is not nearly quite as great as he thinks he is.
The other two books have similar themes, with Ransom facing different and greater 
evils as he travels space. However, they don’t get repetitive or boring, with Lewis 
continuing to add more detail and wonder into them. This trilogy truly shows that 
Lewis is just as skilled at writing science-fiction as he is at writing fantasy.

Friday, May 18, 2018

They Both Die at the End

This book is another book set in the future.  This future includes the fact that, the day you die, you will receive a call from Death-Cast.  Death-Cast is a company that calls everyone the day they will die, warning them.  It is a very suspenseful story, and ends on a cliffhanger.  They Both Die at the End  by Adam Silvera is a multiple character story in which all the characters overlap in their stories.
    This book starts out with the story of Mateo Torrez.  Mateo's mother died while giving birth to him, and his father is in a coma.  Mateo lives alone in his family's apartment with the neighbors checking in on him.  On the day he gets his call, Mateo downloads an app called the Last Friend App. The Last Friend App is an app where you can communicate with other people who are dying and might want to hang out and do something fun on their End Day. Mateo downloads the app...
    The second story is the story of Rufus Emeterio.  Rufus's story starts out with him beating his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend up.  The boyfriend's name is Peck.  All of a sudden, Rufus gets his call from Death-Cast.  He calls the fight off, and then he drives to the church where he and Aimee (his ex-girlfriend) went on their first date, and he texts her. She calls him back, and he insists they need to meet up.  Aimee, Rufus's friends Tagoe and Malcolm, and his foster parents throw him a funeral.  Aimee brings Peck as well. Rufus doesn't like that, and he has a good reason not to.  Halfway through Rufus's funeral, the cops come to get Rufus because he beat Peck up.  Rufus has to go on the run. Eventually, he comes to rest at a gas station. At the gas station, Rufus sees graffiti advertising the Last Friend App.  Rufus downloads the app...
    The rest of the story is about how Rufus and Mateo meet their last friends, and have adventures with them.  There are also other sections of the story about different characters who somehow overlap with the section before it.  I think this book was very interesting.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense and stories about friendship.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Moffats

Growing up, I spent a lot of my time reading. I read books my parents
bought me, books I checked out from the library, books I borrowed from
my friends, and even some books I bought for myself when my small
allowance allowed. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve shied away from reading more
and more, which is a shame. Recently however, I’ve been reading more,
 whether by myself, with both of my parents, or just with my mom over lunch.
One of the books that my mom and I just finished is The Moffats, by Eleanor
Estes. This book is one of the solid cornerstones of my childhood reading
experience, and it was a treat to be able to read again.
The Moffats is a book about a small family living in Cranbury, Connecticut, 
who are trying to make it by without much but each other. The book explores
the lives of Mama, Sylvie, Joey, Janey, and Rufus Moffat as they go about their
daily lives living in the Little Yellow House. My favorite part of the book is how
well Estes puts you into the thoughts of whichever Moffat is narrating the story
at the time, especially Janey’s perspective. Janey just has this unusual and very
amusing way of looking at the world that reminds me of the way I used to think
of things as a little kid.
The Moffats is a book full of great lessons about family, sharing, and all sorts
of other good-old-fashioned values. This is one of those books that’s great for
all ages. It gives you a great sense of nostalgia, joy, and a desire to go for a nice
Sunday ride with the Salvation Army Man!

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!