Friday, January 30, 2009

Let's Be Friends

Lynda from Lynda's Book Blog has honored me with this "Let's Be Friends Award." Thank you Lynda, I am truly honored.

The award says:
“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

I will be passing this award on later - this ice storm has wrecked havoc with all my plans.

On another note, Lynda has another blog I enjoy reading: The Holistic Knitter's Blog. If you love knitting and knitters, you will love this blog!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (Book #1) by Michael Scott (375 pages)

Like most children - and some adults- I was disappointed when the Harry Potter series ended. But now there is a new young adult series that feels like an addition to the world of Harry Potter: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Nicholas Flamel - the 14th-century alchemist who could turn base metal into gold, and make a potion that ensures immortality - was mentioned in several of the Potter books

In The Alchemyst, Sophie and Josh Newman are 15-year-old twins who take summer jobs in San Francisco: Sophie at a coffee shop and Josh at a bookstore owned by Nick and Perry Flamel. In the vey first chapter, armed robbers storm the bookshop, take Perry hostage and steal a rare book of magical wisdom, The Codex.

The siblings, lead by Flamel are drawn into a mythology world to stage a battle between the Dark Elders and a necromancer named Dr. John Dee. This book is a fast read and is populated by the likes of werewolves and vampires. It ends with a cliff-hanger I'm sure will be picked up in the next book, The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.

The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (Book #2) by Michael Scott (464 pages)

In this exciting sequel to The Alchemyst, Sophie and Josh Newman are in Paris with Nicholas Flamel, when they come up against the villian Dr. John Dee and his accomplice, Niccolò Machiavelli. Dee has learned that Josh and Sophie are phophesised in The Codex - the magical book stolen in The Alchemyst - so he seeks to win them over to his side.

The twins are coming into more of their power and Flamel is teaching the children how to control and use these powers. We also get to meet Joan of Arc, several Greek gods and goddesses, as well as the gargolyes of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

This is a great installment in what is supposed to be a six book series. The next book, The Sorceress: The Secrets Of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel (Book #3) will be released on May 26, 2009.

Both of these books are great fun to read with children!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - The Road to Oz

The Road to Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Road to Oz is the fifth of L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz books. It was originally published on July 10, 1909 and documents Dorothy's fourth visit to Oz.

Dorothy is near her home in Kansas when the story begins. As she travels through Oz on her way to the Emerald City, she is welcomed by old friends - Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, Jack PumpkinHead, Tik-Tok and Billina the Yellow Hen. Everyone has gathered at Emerald City to celebrate Osma's birthday.
We meet several new characters in this book: the Shaggy Man, Button-Bright, and Polychrome. At the end of this tale, Dorothy is wished home by Ozma's Magic Belt.

Of all the Oz books by L. Frank Baum, this one is probably my least favorite. I loved meeting my favorite characters again, but the story was a little disjointed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz is the fourth book set in the Land of Oz written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by John R. Neill. It was published on June 18, 1908 and reunites Dorothy with the Wizard from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy and her kitten, Eureka, is sent to visit her uncle in California - operator Hugson's Ranch. She strikes up an acquaintance with Hugson's son and her cousin, Zeb. Dorothy, Eureka, and Zeb are riding a horse buggy when an earthquake starts and opens a crevice beneath them, sending them hurtling into the bowels of the earth. They land in the land of the Mangaboos, vegetable people who blame the earthquake on Dorothy.

Although the book has "In Oz" in the title, Dorothy and the Wizard spend very little time actually in Oz, but it doesn't matter. This is another great installment in the Oz series.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Dragon's Eye (Erec Rex #1)

The Dragon's Eye (Erec Rex #1) by Kaza Kingsley

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 345 pages
Publisher: Firelight Press, Inc.; 1 edition
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0978655567
ISBN-13: 978-0978655563

Erec Rex is a 12 year old boy who has been living in a non-magical world, when he was actually born in a magical world. Sound familiar? Well, this is where the similarities between Erec Rex and Harry Potter end. For all those clamoring for a new fantasy series to read after the ending of Harry Potter, then look no further - Kaza Kingsley has given us a unique and interesting take on the world of magic.

Erec unknowingly enters the magical world of the Kingdom of the Keepers while searching for his mother. Erec has an unusual gift - the dark thoughts. When the dark thoughts take over Erec's mind, he must do what they say. When the dark thoughts tell him to go in search of his mother, he encounters a new friend, Bethany, who helps him search for his mother.

Erec soon finds himself in a tournament to become one of the new rulers of the Kingdom of the Keepers. The current rulers are King Piter, King Pluto and Queen Posey - but King Piter has been ill for over 10 years. It was King Piter's own children - triplets - who were to be the new rulers, but they mysteriously died as babies.

People are not always what they appear to be in the uniquely different world of magic and mayhem. Allies become enemies and enemies turn out to be friendly - it is unclear whom to trust in this newly created world.

This books gives you many unusual new items and animals, as well as magical devices:

Magical seeing eyeglasses - let you see the person you miss the most.
Cloudsicles - yummy snacks to eat.
Aniballs - different colored balls which turn into animals.
Inquizzles - will answer one question for you.
Nitrowisherine - a liquid that explodes, then grants a wish.

This is a wonderful new series for young adults, and adults who are young at heart. The second book in the series is The Monsters of the Otherness. The third book - The Search for the Truth - will be released this summer.

Visit Kaza Kingsley's blog at The Memory Mogul and the official Erec Rex website at Erec Rex

Hope Is In the Air

The enthusiasm is contagious! Everything is building to a crescendo for this all important day in history. Hope is in the air and with hope comes the emergence of a new day in America.

After agonizing over whether to allow my daughter to stay home from school today - I did decide YES - today ended up being a snow day. So now she can stay home without fear of all the work she's missing!

My hubby called last night - he is in Washington for work - and he said the crowds and the traffic are unbelievable! He said just going a short distance takes hours and hours. But he did say most people are excited and even helpful. Plus, he got to see Keith Olbermann doing Countdown from the temporary set for MSNBC!

Today is one of those "Where were you" moments in history our children and grandchildren will be talking about. Write down your hopes and feelings. Talk to your family about what is important to you. Someday, a family member will feel honored to know what YOU were feeling on this important day.

Remember to sign-up and volunteer your services to your community. Even if it is only a small step, every little small step counts towards making our nation stronger.

Happy Inauguration! God Bless America!

Monday, January 19, 2009

LOST Book Challenge

The LOST Books Challenge will be the first book challenge I have accepted so far in 2009. I like the idea of this challenge because I have become absorbed in the LOST legend over the past 6 weeks.

I didn't start out watching LOST when it first came on, but I have rented the entire series from Netflix and have been watching one episode after another. I will finish the 3-part season 4 finale tonight, so I'll be ready for the season 5 premiere on Wednesday.

Here are the books I am considering for this challenge - I am giving myself a list of 10 from which I will finally choose my 5 books:

1.) Are You There God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume - this book was a favorite when I was a little girl, but it's been over 30 years since I've read it.

2.) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle - another favorite from my childhood, the book that started my science-fiction craze.

3.) Dune by Frank Herbert - I love this movie, but I've never read the book.

4.) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - actually I read this book again last year, but I plan to read the Annotated Alice. This may be a deviation from the books, but that's my plan.

5.) Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll - see #4.

6.) The Stand by Stephen King - my favorite King book, but I haven't read it in years. I plan to read the expanded version which is over 1100 pages.

7.) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling - these 7 books will probably be bonus books. They are my comfort books, so whenever I'm sick or not feeling well, I'll pull out one and start reading.

8.) The Gunslinger by Stephen King - I have plans to re-read this entire series, but I'm not sure when.

9.) Watership Down by Richard Adams - another favorite book from my childhood. I read this one so many times before the animated movie was released. It has probably been 20+ years since I last read this one.

10.) The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis - again, a favorite series. I re-read the books before the first movie was released, so I have plans to read again before the next movie.

Happy Reading!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Frost Bites

Frost Bites (Nodessy Adventures #2) by Charles Ogden

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Aladdin
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416954643
ISBN-13: 978-1416954644

Although I was not familiar with these books before last week, most children under the age of 12 know Edgar and Ellen from their animated television series. Ogden – who is mysteriously missing in action - has cleverly written a series of books about these michevious twins and their adventures in the town of Nod’s Limbs. The Nodessy Adventures is the second series featuring the twins.

In this book, Edgar and Ellen are in pursuit of their nemesis, Stephanie Knightleigh, who leads them to Frøsthaven, an Arctic village whose cheerful citizens and strange customs remind them of home.

Also, there are clues embedded in this book that will lead the reader closer to the missing author of this series.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blue Moon

Blue Moon (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book #8) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Berkley Hardcover
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425223833
ISBN-13: 978-0425223833

For all those interested in the vampire genre, the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series is for you. Anita makes a living as a necromancer – someone who raises the dead. She also executes rogue vampires and other villains. Vampire marks bind her to Jean-Claude, the Master vampire of St. Louis, and to Richard, her ex-fiancé, a powerful werewolf who heads up the local pack. Anita shares some of their magic, and her own power over the dead keeps growing.

In Blue Moon, Richard has been thrown in jail and Anita arrives to save the day, only to realize the local cops are very corrupt. Once again, Anita finds herself in over her head having to rely on her quick wit and skills, in addition to reinforcements from the vampire and were-pack communities.

To better understand the world of Hamilton’s vampires, it is best to read the earlier books in this series. But if you love vampires, they are well worth the read.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - Osma of Oz

Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Ozma of Oz was first published on July 29, 1907, and was the third book of L. Frank Baum's Oz series. Happily, Dorothy returns in this book, after being absent from The Marvelous Land of Oz.

Uncle Henry has been ordered by his doctor to take a vacation from his Kansas farm and he goes to Australia. He and Dorothy are aboard a steamship traveling there when they are caught in a fierce storm and separated. Dorothy is blown overboard along with a yellow hen - Billina - from her uncle's farm that was on the ship. The movie Return to Oz also gets many of its ideas from this book, especially the lunch pail tree, which I find fascinating.

Dorothy and Billina are constant companions during this tale. We also get to meet Tic-Toc, the Nome King, and the hungry Tiger. Dorothy is also reunited with the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Lion.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3)

The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians book #3) by Rick Riordan

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423101480
ISBN-13: 978-1423101482

This young adult book series is a great introduction to ancient Greek mythology. Percy Jackson is a teenager with half mortal and half god genes who lives in the world of ancient mythology. In order for this book to make sense, you really need to read the first two books in this proposed five book series: The Lightening Thief and The Sea Monsters.

In The Titan’s Curse, Percy is on a rescue mission to save his best friend Annabeth and the goddess, Artemis. Our hero must deal with various mythological beasts, as well as his ever growing mythological family – in particular, his distant, godly parents. Percy also learns there is a dark side to being a hero.

If you love Greek mythology and have been searching for a new series of books to read after the conclusion of Harry Potter, then Percy Jackson and the Olympians is just the place to start.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tales of Beedle the bard

Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling (111 pages)

For all you Harry Potter fans who have been in withdrawal since the 2007 release of The Deathly Hallows, this book is for you. Rowling has finally given us the fairy tale book first introduced in the 7th Harry Potter book.

This slim book contains five fairy tales: "The Tale of the Three Brothers", "The Warlock's Hairy Heart", "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot", "The Fountain of Fair Fortune", and "Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump."

Although not in the same league as the Harry Potter series, this is a must read for fans of Rowling. It makes an excellent bedtime story book for children (and adults) of all ages.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Way Back Wednesday - The Marvelous Land of Oz

The Marvelous Land of Oz was published on July 5, 1904, and is the second of L. Frank Baum's books set in the Land of Oz, and the sequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It is the only book in the series in which Dorothy Gale does not appear.

A little boy named Tip is under the guardianship of a witch named Mombi in Gillikin Country. Tip makes plans to escape from Mombi by frightening her with a scarecrow. Unfortunately, he has no straw to stuff the scarecrow, so Tip makes a man out of wood and gives him a pumpkin for a head, naming him Jack Pumpkinhead. Mombi is not scared and she sprinkles the Powder of Life on Jack, bringing him to life. Mombi then threatens revenge on Tip.
Tip and Jack run away to the Emerald City, which is currently ruled by the Scarecrow. The Tin Woodman now rules the Winkie Kingdom. The Lion is mysteriously absent, just like Dorothy.

We are introduced to several new characters from the Land of Oz: General Jinjur's all-girl Army of Revolt, the Wogglebug, the flying Gump, Jackdaws, and most importantly Ozma who is the rightful ruler of the Emerald City.

Return to Oz is a 1985 Disney film which has many elements from The Marvelous Land of Oz. Of all the Oz books, I think this is my least favorite because Dorothy is missing, but I did enjoy the Return to Oz movie.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all my readers!!! Here's to a bright and shiny 2009!!