Posts Tagged ‘Book 2’

In book one, Into the Wild, a house cat finds adventure when he enters the woods. Joining ThunderClan, he (Firepaw) finds it difficult to make friends, including with Tigerclaw, the #2 in command. However, Bluestar (the head of the clan) takes him in under her wing. It isn’t until Firepaw proves himself that he finds more acceptance, yet Tigerclaw still isn’t one of them. Firepaw learns that the vicious warrior murdered Redtail (another ThunderClan warrior) and is waiting for the right time, and cat, to share this news with.

Story overview:
Having been promoted to a warrior, Firepaw takes on the responsibilities of his new name, Fireheart. Keeping one eye on Tigerclaw, he begins to question the validity of the claim against the warrior. In the meantime, Fireheart is given charge over his own apprentice.

Longing for his old life, Fireheart sneaks back to his old neighborhood. In doing so, he comes across a familiar cat. After sneaking back for countless visits, he begins to question his new lifestyle in the clan.

When his best friend, Graystripe, becomes infatuated with a female cat from another clan, Fireheart wonders about his friend’s loyalty. Yet this problem only escalates when RiverClan teams up with ShadowClan in order to take out the weakened WindClan. Conflicted between his friend, old life, duty as a warrior, and suspicions over Tigerclaw, Fireheart battles to live up to his name and protect that which is most important to him.

My thoughts:
Like the last book, this one was easy to read and pulled me into the pages. I enjoyed continuing along with the characters and experiencing the situations they were put into. My biggest complaint was the ending, which didn’t feel like an ending at all–it left too much unexplained. Of course, that was done on purpose–so the reader would be suckered into getting the next book in the series. Well, it worked. I will be obtaining a copy in the near future and write a review of it here once I have completed the reading.

Things to consider:
There is a ferocity that accompanies this tale as would be appropriate for a nature show. I can see this being disturbing for younger children. No sexual situations or foul language. I would age appropriate this to preteens and older. Also enjoyable for adults who like fantasy stories such as Redwall.

Opportunities for discussion:
Loyalty. That is one of the biggest themes I recognized in this tale. We all know that loyalty is a good trait, yet sometimes, in life, we struggle to know what exactly it is we should be loyal to. This is a part of the growing process as we learn who we really are. Ask your children what they devote themselves to the most, and then share with them this verse: Proverbs 21:21 (ESV), “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.” If their loyalty doesn’t follow along this path, perhaps it’s time to do a little redirecting.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Into the Wild (Warriors, Book 1)

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Normally I like to start out with the first book in a series, and then move on to another series just to keep things fresh. At a later time, I often revisit the second book, but in this case I made an exception. Why? Simple. I couldn’t wait. I wanted to see what happened next.

In the previous story of Artemis Fowl, we have a boy with a sick mother and a lost (presumed dead) father. The family happens to have a history of thievery, and Artemis takes advantage of his position in the most peculiar way: by going after Irish myths, which just so happen to contain a certain amount of truth. One of which is the existence of elves and “LEPrecon” gold. Things didn’t go the way he had hoped, but in the end, Artemis was victorious.

Story overview:

Artemis is a year older and a little wiser. In fact, for a thirteen-year-old, his IQ has no equal, but he is still a child and the desire to find his father continues to burn. One day, while frustrating the school’s psychologist, Artemis receives a call from Butler, his faithful body guard and closest friend. Artemis learns that his father was captured by the Russian Mafia and is being held for ransom.

Thankfully for Artemis, several leagues underground, the LEPrecon is experiencing troubles of their own when goblins show up with outlawed weapons. Captain Holly Short suspects Artemis as their supplier, but soon discovers his innocence. The situation puts Artemis in a good position to offer aid to the LEPrecon in return for their help with his father.

Things go from bad to worse as the true minds behind the attacks are discovered by Foaly—the intelligent centaur in charge of technology—but a little too late, as Foaly is setup to take the blame for the incident. With help from the dwarf, Mulch Diggums; Artemis; Commander Julius Root; and Butler, put away their differences to try and save the Lower Elements and Artemis’s father.

My thoughts:

I was surprised that I actually liked this book better than the first one. The story took on an entirely different plot scheme from the last novel, and was even more exciting. Both are page turners and worthy of a good mention. I will for sure be putting the third novel on my list of must reads. As of now, a seventh book is scheduled to be released on July 20, 2010, so I have some catching up to do.

Things to consider:

There is very little I would consider questionable in this book. Safely share this with your twelve-year-old, teens, and even your peers. Enjoyable for all ages.

Opportunities for discussion:

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what that means to me.” The old 1967 song by Aretha Franklin touches upon an important theme in this book. Artemis happens to be a genius, and because of this, he finds it difficult to look up to anyone as his equal. Later in the novel, Artemis discovers that he has the utmost respect for Butler, who is able to perform tasks that Artemis can only dream about. This is a great time to ask your children who they respect and why. You may be surprised.

Past reviews in this series:

1) Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) by Eoin Colfer

From the author of Anne Droyd and Century Lodge comes the next book in the series, The House of Shadows. Will Hadcroft is probably best known for his The Feeling’s Unmutual non-fiction story, which overviews his challenges of growing up with Asperger Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder, which usually results in difficulty interacting socially, repeat behaviors, and clumsiness).

The first Anne Droyd book was written in mind of children that suffer with similar symptoms. However, the story is not limited to this group by any means. It is a tale of a robot designed to have the appearance of a young girl, thus, an android. She comes across three children who end up adopting her in an attempt to help her understand what it is to become human. You see, she possesses some biological properties that make up her brain, and it is the children’s responsibility to awaken them.

Story overview:

Gezz, Luke, Malcolm (Malc), and Anne are on winter break in the coastal town of Whitby. Gezz’s parents—who are the chaperones—are not known for their wealth, and so the group ends up staying at a low-cost Bed and Breakfast. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that this place—and the family running it—are more than a bit odd.

The only semi-normal member of the Stevenson family is a girl named Sophie, who happens to be around the same age as the rest of the children. Malcolm takes an instant liking to the girl, and the others accept her into their group without any quibbles. Only, there is one thing. They promised to keep Anne’s secret safe. What secret? That she’s an Android. Sophie realizes there is something different about Anne and she is determined to find out what the other children are hiding.

But that’s not all. Sophie’s family has a few secrets of their own. Strange comings and goings of people in the night have all the children on a mission to uncover what is going on. It isn’t until they come across the frightful figure of a man, with the characteristics of a best, that they realize this isn’t the kind of vacation they were expecting.

My thoughts:

For some reason—which I can’t put my finger on—Anne leaves a lasting impression on one’s memory. The idea of a robot trying to figure out what it is be become human is not a new idea (can anyone say, Data?), but Hadcroft does this in a unique way. The behaviors of Anne Droyd are believable, as well as the personalities of the children who take care of her. In The House of Shadows, I found myself enjoying the side stories, such as the boating incident and the counterfeit money. But the ongoing plot as a whole also does not disappoint and comes out with a satisfying end. Overall a fitting sequel in the Anne Droyd saga. Here’s looking forward to the completion of Anne Droyd and the Ghosts of Winter Hill.

Things to consider

There is nothing questionable that I could detect in this story. I would age rate this for children ages twelve and older (tweens plus). It is important to note that this is a British written novel, which has not been converted over to an American audience. There were a few phrases, slang, and descriptions that confused me. Such as “Oh, you’d better take your coats. It’s still quite cold in the evenings and you’ll have to queue up on the pavement. There’s always quite a queue.” It took me awhile to realize what “queue up on the pavement” meant. There are also some punctuation differences such as single quotes instead of doubles and the placement of things like periods. Still, this does not affect the overall clarity of the story as a whole.

Opportunities for discussion:

There is a theme of addiction in this story. Not only Malcolm’s alcoholic parents, but Sophie’s family who tried to continue her grandfather’s experiments to prevent illness. Even though the experiments destroyed her grandfather’s immune system and ultimately lead to his death, Sophie’s mom wanted to use the mixture of chemicals to eliminate her negative moods. As you know from reading the story, this had negative consequences. Not only to the mother, but to Sophie. Unfortunately, children are often the victims in cases of addiction. Read the sequence on page 192/193 and ask your child to think about how Sophie is feeling. Warn them of the negative consequences of addiction and how they not only hurt themselves, but the ones they love too.

TheGolemsEye_B2To my pleasure, I have finally been able to read the next book in The Bartimaeus Trilogy. Sequels are often a disappointment, but The Golem’s Eye succeeds where others have failed.

In the last book, twelve-year-old Nathanial was forced from his parents and raised by a low-class wizard named Arthur Underwood, who treated the boy with distain. After secretly growing in knowledge—so not to be chastised by his master—Nathanial was one day treated poorly by one of the man’s guests, Simon Lovelace. With the help of a djinni named Bartimaeus, Nathanial finds out that Lovelace is up to more than the boy bargained for.

Story overview:

Two years after the defeat of Lovelace, Nathanial finds himself in a prominent position at Internal Affairs. When put in charge of tracking down the Resistance, he finds himself in a bind. Not only is he unable to discover who they are, but a new mystery appears and he is stuck trying to solve it.

After many attempts to summon efficient djinni, he turns to Bartimaeus as a last resort. Since this particular djinni knows his true name, it comes as a great risk to Nathanial, however, they agree to work together for a specific amount of time (with Bartimaeus prepared to divulge the boy’s true name soon afterwards.)

Discovering that the second threat is a Golem controlled by an unknown wizard, Nathanial finds himself in a tough position. Not only does the community of wizards not believe him, but he ends up trying to prevent himself from becoming their scapegoat. Unfortunately for him, it gets worse before it gets better and Nathanial does all he can do to keep his head above water (literally.) Kitty—the last living member of the Resistance—ends up crossing paths with Nathanial and the unexpected results surprise them both.

My thoughts:

I love the twist of making wizards in general the bad guys. Something not often tackled in fantasy. Kitty seems to have taken the place of Nathanial at “good guy,” as Nathanial has gone down the corrupt and self-seeking path of wizardry. I have yet to read the third book (is there hope for Nathanial yet?) but so far, I would say this is my favorite trilogy of the year. Wonderfully creative and absolutely humorous, I caught myself laughing out loud as I did in the first book. It did seem to me as if the beginning of the book was a little slower than the first one; there is more back-story, but if you keep with it you will see how necessary it is, after all, a minor character from the first book has become a huge part of the second. Kitty even has her own point-of-view along with Nathanial and Bartimaeus. Great character interactions and storytelling. A+, five stars, I cannot say enough.

Things to consider:

Overall, a really clean story. No foul language other than the occasional mention of a character cursing, no sexual situations or inappropriate references, and nothing that a sound believer would/should consider compromising. As I mentioned in the last book, the references towards demons is purely represented as a human misconception in the story. They are a type of fantasy spirit mentioned in old tales such as Aladdin’s lamp. There are some deaths and situations of violence that may be considered a little frightful for younger children, but overall I’d say preteen (tween) plus, the plus being adults too. Good for girls and boys, this one being a little more girl friendly than the last.

Opportunities for discussion:

I believe freewill is one of the more dominant topics in this tale. Bartimaeus often finds himself being reminded of his lack of freewill and the human’s power of slavery over him. This makes it worse when he thinks of humans and the fact that they do have freewill. This is a great Biblical topic with much opportunity for discussion. I suggest starting by asking your children what they think freewill is, and then ending it with your ideas on the matter.

Past reviews in this series:

1) The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1)

One final note:

I wonder if there is a chance that Kitty is Nathanial’s sister. We never hear his “true” last name, and I have a suspicion that she may be from the family who gave him up. Perhaps a long shot, but that’s my writer’s brain in action.

EldestThe next book in the Inheritance cycle is Eldest. If you read my review of Eragon, you will see that I really enjoyed the book. I am mostly able to say the same for Eldest, with a loss of about 1/3 after reading it (and many critics trashed the book as well), but I’m a loyal reader and plan to finish the entire set (the fourth book has yet to be written as of this date) before I make a final conclusion.
 
Story overview:

With the death of Ajihad, the leader of the Varden, a new leader is chosen. Nasuada, Ajihad’s daughter, ends up with the honor (or burden). Eragon swears fealty to her in order to satisfy the Varden’s Council of Elders.
 
Roran, Eragon’s cousin, is left to fend off an army of Galbatorix against Carvahall (their home town). He earns the name, Stronghammer, after his favorite choice of weapons. His fiancée is captured and the remainder of the town decides to travel to Surda, with Roran at the head.
 
Meanwhile, Eragon goes to Du Weldenvarden to be trained by the Elves, and he learns that he may not be as alone as he first had thought. Both him and Saphira grow stronger, including a transformation that Eragon undergoes at a Blood-Oath Celebration. Once he learns that the Varden are in need of help, Eragon joins the battle only to end up facing a more experienced Dragon Rider.
 
My thoughts:

Even with the disappointments I had, I enjoyed the story. It was a bit slow in places, but I didn’t really lose my concentration. Like Eragon, this one is not entirely unique, but I felt closer to the characters and cared more about what happened to them. I also really liked the character of Elva, who is a product of an unintentionally bad blessing from Eragon and Saphira.
 
Things to consider:

I rate this the same as Eragon, for pre-teens +. My biggest disappointment with this story is that not only did Paolini decided to make the Elves vegetarians (who wear leather?), he made them staunch atheists (which is anti-traditional Elf lore). I’m not totally convinced that the series will end with atheism being Eragon’s belief system (who, at this point, doesn’t really know what he believes). I think Paolini might be trying to show how each culture follows a different ideology and then leave it up to Eragon to chose what he feels is right in the end (this is just my guess though).

Opportunities for discussion:

Talk about different cultures and what they believe. Tell your children why you believe what you do, and share with them the truths of Christianity. Don’t let them go off to college thinking there’s only one view of God and life, just to have them get confused and end up losing their faith (which is statistically at 80%). Also, share with them why some people chose not to eat meat, and why you agree or disagree with this. Use Bible verses to support your case. Be sure you read this story too, don’t just leave it up to your kids, there are other good moral lessons in here as well.