Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux
by Kate DiCamillo

When Despereaux is born, he is the smallest mouse with the biggest ears anyone had ever seen.  On top of that, he never acts mouse-like.  Instead of scurrying and hiding from people, he sits in the light and even dares to talk to Princess Pea!  He is definitely not the normal mouse.  Because he is endangering other mice by his actions, he is banished to the castle dungeon where the rats live.  Trembling he journeys down into the darkness.

This was a very cute story!  I loved Despereaux's courage and hopefulness.  He is a great character that while hopeful and optimistic, also faces his sadness and trials.  I like how even the evil characters in this book had sides to them that redeemed them.  This would be a great book to read out loud to a child starting chapter books, or to have the early chapter book reader read for themselves!  

Over all, I really like the book and would recommend to anyone!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Light of the Oracle

The Light of the Oracle
By Victoria Hanley

Bryn grows up as a simple girl, daughter to a stone cutter, in a tiny village. Her mother thinks she is useless and a dreamer since she spends time wandering, following thistledown as it floats through the air.  One day, the Master Priest finds her, and tells everyone she is to become a seer, a priestess at a temple far away.  Her life is turned upside down as she journeys with another acolyte, Clea, to the temple to learn how to harness her visions.

Once at the temple, Bryn is taken in by Dawn, another priestess is training, and starts chores in the stables with Kiran, a priest in training.  Her new friends stay with her even when the popular girls taunt her, she gets months of extra chores, and becomes a rare wind-chosen seer.  But when Clea curses her, how will she save a princess, an outcast seer, Kiran, and herself?

This book is a companion to Hanley's other books The Seer and the Sword and The Healer's Keep.  I read it because I read the others and loved them, and this one did not disappoint!  The plot is interesting and has lots of turns, but not so many that the reader gets lost.  I loved the characters, and easily believed they could feel what they did in their situations.  Overall, this was one I had a hard time putting down!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Wide-Awake Princess

The Wide-Awake Princess
by E.D. Baker

Princess Gwen has every fairy in the kingdom invited to her christening, and ended up gifted with many magical benefits, but also cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel.  When Princess Annie was born, her parents had only one fairy give a gift- the gift that no other magic would be able to touch her.  While Gwen grows up beautiful, talented, a loved by all, Annie is more like a normal girl than a princess.

After Gwen predictably pricks her finger on her the spinning wheel, it is up to Annie, resistant to the sleep spell on everyone else in the castle, to save the day.  Together with a castle guard, Annie must venture further from the castle than she ever had before, win contests, sleep on beds piled high with mattresses, and so much more!  Can she save her kingdom, save herself and find her own true love?

I really enjoyed this book.  I hadn't read anything from E. D. Baker yet, but really found myself enjoying this.  Totally appropriate for any age, this is one you want to read!  It mixes several fairy tale elements together, but also is very original.  This book also reminded me of Ella Enchanted by Levine, so if you liked that, this would be a great one!. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sabriel by Garth Nix

Sabriel by
Garth Nix
     Sabriel appears to be just a school girl, but with a whistle she can bring a pet rabbit back to life.  She is daughter of the Abhorsen, a necromancer of the Old Kingdom who works to lay the unquiet dead to rest.  Sent to Ancelstierre and a safer life, Sabriel grows up at school, away from home and away from magic.  Then one night, an Dead creature brings a message and a package from her father: his sword and his bells which he uses to control and bind the dead.  Knowing that this means ill for her father, Sabriel returns to her homeland to find out what has happened to him.
     On her way, Sabriel meets several characters, some who help her along and some who do not want her to find her father: Mogget the talking cat who is much more than what he appears to be, dead who should not be walking, and  necromancers who raise the dead instead of binding them.  As she journeys, she also manages to rescue Touchstone, a soldier, from being a ship's figurehead, but now he can't remember who he was or even how long he was there.  Together, Sabriel and Touchstone must figure out where her father is, who the necromancer following them is, and how to save the Old Kingdom.

     Sabriel is one of my favorite all time books!  Great story with depth and history as well as hints of what might happen in the future.  Sabriel's concern for her father could mirror that of any daughter, and her self doubt is easily understood by many teens.  As she struggles to handle adult situations and her father's disappearance, she grows, matures and changes just like many teens are.  Along with being a fantasy, this is a great coming of age novel with hints of romance in it too.
     One of the reasons I really like this book is how different it is from many other fantasy novels.  Other books have undead and necromancers, but I have not read one other book that deals with them in the same way.  In this book, Death is a location, some what similar to Hades, but it is a place to pass through to the final resting area.  Necromancers have the ability to cross into Death, bind spirits there with bells or by whistling, and then have the spirits serve them in Life.  Garth Nix was so creative and inventive.  This is a really unique book and stands out above many of the other fantasy novels I've read.
Overall, this book is outstanding!  I would definitely recommend to any teenager, and adults too!

My Favorite Author- Garth Nix

Mister Monday, the first in
 the Keys to the Kingdom Series

     So to start this off, I would like to share one of my favorite authors that I found when I was a teenager- Garth Nix.  Originally from Australia, Mr. Nix has several series and books out, including the Abhorsen Trilogy (or Old Kingdom series), Keys to the Kingdom series, and The Seventh Tower series.  In addition to these series, he has several stand alone books or collection of stories, including Shade's Children, One Beastly Beast, and a book that is the start of a new series called Troubletwisters.
     One of the things I like about Garth Nix's books is his different approach to everything.  He has very interesting and unique approaches to his fantasy settings.  He treats death as a series of waterfalls, he believes test is mightier than the days of the week, and bells have power to calm or raise the dead.  So many of his ideas were fresh to me as a teenager, which was really important.  I read so much, I saw lots of elements that got over done- everyone had done it hundreds of times!  So when I read Sabriel, it still has some things I was familiar with, but then has so many new ideas!  I love it!  All of these books I would recommend to any teenager!

Sabriel, first book of
the Old Kingdom series
     The first book I read by Garth Nix was Sabriel.  I was mesmerized by it!  When I heard, years later, that other books set in the same world were being written, I was so excited.  I love this book so much, that it will have its own posting (soon to come!).  One of the reasons why this book intrigued me so much is the unique way it looked at death.  Sabriel also has many elements that entice teens: fantasy, action, romance, and a teen main character that even goes to school.  The story is fast paced, delves right into the action, and keeps going throughout the book.   Read the post on Sabriel  to find out more!  After reading this book, I searched out for others by him.
The Fall, Book 1 of
The Seventh Tower series
     While many of his books are intended for young adults, the Seventh Tower series is more for late elementary and middle school readers.  Tal is a young man who has lived his whole life in darkness at the castle with the seven towers.  When trouble threatens his family, Tal tries to steal a sunstone, the source of light and power for his people.  When he fails, he falls, out the the light and into the unknown.  There he meets Milla, his complete opposite, who he must trust and work with in order to save everything they hold dear.  This series of six books is a great read- continual action and twists and turns keep the reader eagerly turning the pages!
Lord Sunday, the conclusion of
The Keys to the Kingdom series.
     A series that he recently finished is the Keys to the Kingdom.  Starting with Mister Monday, we meet Arthur Penhaligon, a boy starting a new school.  While in PE, he tries to run despite his asthma, and ends up seeing what he thinks are delusions.  These delusions are Mister Monday and his servant.  This leads Arthur to the House, where everything is dreadfully wrong.  The Keys to the Kingdom series follow Arthur as he battles each day or the week for dominion over the House.  As he get closer to battling Lord Sunday, is Arthur still himself, or is he losing himself in the magic of the House?
    Here are some great resources to learn more about Garth Nix and his books:   Garth Nix's official website   Keys to the Kingdom website    Abhorsen and Old Kingdom series website    website for Garth Nix's new series: Troubletwisters

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why I Started Bren's Book Blog

So, I've had this idea for a while: since I read a lot (though not as much as I would like!) and everyone always asks me for good books to read, I thought I would create a list of books, and what I thought about them!  So this is that list!  A blog to record what I read, how I feel about it, and who I would recommend it to.

A couple notes: many of these books will be children and teen book, since that is what I read!  Right now, I work in a library in the children and teen areas, so this is a very natural outlet for that.  Also, I am working on my masters degree in Library Sciences, and I'm getting a lot of influence and great experience from that.  I loved working at the library so much, I decided to make it my career!

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or other feedback for me about by blog!



Wednesday, February 16, 2011