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Nov. 19th, 2009


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Book of a Thousand Days

1. Author: Shannon Hale

2. Title: Book of a Thousand Days

3. Publisher: Thorndike Press

4. URL: http://www.squeetus.com/stage/main.html

5. Number of Pages: 323

6. About the Book: Synopsis from the author, “Dashti, a maid, and her mistress, Lady Saren, are shut in a tower for seven years because of Saren’s refusal to marry a man she despises, and the two prepare for a very long and dark imprisonment. When Saren’s two suitors arrive outside the tower, the girls are confronted with both hope and great danger. With Shannon Hale’s lyrical language, this little-known classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm is reimagined and reset on the central Asian steppes; it is a completely unique retelling filled with adventure and romance.”

This story, just as the synopsis says is about two girls bricked into a tower for seven years. Only the lady’s maid can even write, and the story is basically her journal of the events of her life slightly before and after the time she and her mistress are imprisoned in a tower. She writes about some truly horrific things that happen to her and her mistress and how she tries to resolve the issues that they face. When Lady Saren and Dashti are finally free of the tower, the adventure doesn’t stop there. Both have to then deal with what they are going to do with their lives.

7. Opinion: Normally I like Shannon Hale’s work. She doesn’t make things over complicated when she invents her own worlds, and as a reader I can understand her characters and plot. But this book was different. Shannon Hale borrows heavily from Mongolian religion and culture, but without an explanation for the reader. She refers to different belief systems and social standing that as a Westerner I have great difficulty understanding. You have to have an understanding and working knowledge of how nomadic people in Mongolian live, as well as their myths and legends to understand some of the things that the characters say and that influence their actions. I would have enjoyed the story, as I have read and enjoyed many of the Grimm fairy tales and legends, but for the issues I have mentioned above. Another point of contention is how the characters act; sometimes they act in a very typical “western fashion”, speaking their mind, acting on what they believe in and so one. But at other times there is a very obvious slave and master mentality, between the two main characters. Dashti often obeys, just because she believes she has to in her culture, and other times she suddenly decides she doesn’t want to.

The laws and traditions are not clearly explained, as Dashti goes to trial for obeying her mistress. The laws they apply aren't any I am familiar with. If I had a clue as to which group of people Shannon Hale characters are from, (Mongolia is just a guess), then maybe I would be able to understand her story and form a better connection with what I was reading. Overall, from what I have read of her previous work, I would give this story a two out of ten. I truly think she could have done much better. I won’t be recommending this story.

Hale, S. ( 2007). Book of a thousand days. Detroit: Thorndike Press.

Oct. 22nd, 2009


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Seek to Find


Author: Melissa Ice

Book: Seek to Find

Publisher: Publish America

URL: www.galderancitizen.webs.com

Number of Pages: 222

About the Book:

Synopsis: (Believe me this is really hard to find) “Marina’s predictable life comes apart at the seams when her father doesn’t return home one evening. With no family to help her, Marina sets out on her own. But when a former best friend betrays her, she is forced to leave the only home she has ever known. Struggling with both emotions and her newly discovered heritage, Marina is determined to save her father from a horrible fate. From the middle of a vast forest to the heart of an empire, Marina struggles to come to terms with her own heart and finds herself a part of a rebellion that aims to radically alter the lives of her people."

The book is about a young woman, 18, whose father disappears one day after he goes to get supplies at the nearest village. But he doesn’t come back. After waiting a couple days, Marina goes to the village to check out what is going on. While there, she is betrayed and locked up in a barn! But due to the efforts of another villager, she escapes and flees for her life. Forced to avoid human contact for the most part, she makes her way through the crumbling villages and their disheartened inhabitants. She is forced to seek help when her money runs out and is almost betrayed again, or so she thinks.

Opinion: Overall the book has a believable plot, good solid characters, and a very strong author voice. But the down side is that it looks like the publisher never edited the book, and the author missed some things. That kind of takes away from the potential the story has for being a rather good read. The story is rich in details, but that can sometimes be taken as rather too heavy and inflexible for the reader in some cases (depending on your preferences). Overall I would give this book a four out of five. Hopefully the author with have someone competent to edit if she decides to write more novels.

This author is really unknown.  I couldn't find any reviews or information other than what is included in her website.  Which, I must say is almost impossible to find.  Since she went with a POD publisher, I don't think many will read or review her book, (at least not without a large fee).  It would be great to hear if anyone else has read this book and has an opinion. 

Ice, M. (2009). Seek to find. Maryland: PublishAmerica.


Sep. 15th, 2009


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Cry of the Icemark


Author: Stuart Hill

Title of Book: Cry of the Icemark

Name of Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Author’s URL: It doesn’t look like he has a website, but there is plenty of information out there about him!

Number of Pages: 472

About this Book: If you like adventure themed stories with the amazing and personable main character beating impossible odds, this book is for you! This book, which is the first in a current series of three, is the story of Princess Thirrin. Thirrin is a fourteen year old girl who has to take up the throne of her kingdom after her father leaves to face the threat of a seemingly unstoppable empire. She teams up with a host of mythical allies and has to do what most teenagers her age couldn’t not even be expected to attempt. The great thing about this story is that it is believable. How many authors do you know can make it seem like a real teen could run a country?!? The main character Thirrin is believable and has real moments of vulnerability, though one or two do push the limit so to speak.

Thirrin ends up overcoming incredible odds with talent, perseverance, and a great deal of help. She has to deal with the death of family members (I’m not going to say who!) and working to convince creatures she never dreamed existed to help her. I found myself cheering her on! The other characters in this story, such as Oskan, and “Maggie” just help to make this story rich and complex. Thirrin ends up saving her kingdom, only because the opposing forces flee for their lives and has to start the work of repairing the damage they have caused.

Opinion: I really enjoyed this book. Besides cheering on the nation of Icemark, I wanted to personally take care of the general of the opposing army. He is that cocky and full of himself! I really must give credit to Stuart Hill for creating a villain you want to hate! I would recommend this book to anyone sixth grade and above. I give it a five out of five!

Aug. 30th, 2009


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Dragon Sword and Wind Child

Author: Noriko Ogiwara
Book: Dragon Sword and Wind Child

Publisher: VIZ Media, LLC

Author’s URL: Unknown

Number of Pages: 244

About the Book:

This is the story that draws heavily on Japanese mythology. It involves a war between the forces of the God of Light and the Goddess of Darkness. The main character is a young woman called Saya, a simple village maid who is in reality an important figure for the forces of darkness. Saya grows up with only nightmares of what her life was like before her adoptive parents found her (Ogiwara, p.9-10). Her world is turned upside down when Prince Tsukishiro asks to accompany her to the village festival (Ogiwara, p.33). 

Saya finds herself having dreams about moments from her previous life after she goes to live in the heart of the Light Empire. She quickly comes to understand how little she fits in and decides that she will accomplish what her previous incarnations never did, find the mysterious figure in her nightmares. From there her life is again turned upside down, when she joins the forces of Darkness and tries to discover her part in the fate of her new people.

 

Opinion: This book is well written. There isn’t any point in the story where the author just leaves you hanging, so to speak.

 

Examples

1.      Saya chasing after her belt in the river (Ogiwara, p15).

2.      Saya sneaks into a shrine (Ogiwara, p94).

3.      Saya is chased by a giant bear spirit (Ogiwara, p166).

4.      Saya walks throw a field of flowers in underworld (Ogiwara, p265).

 

There are also a resounding lack of dull portions that make you want to skip ahead to find out what happens. Unfortunately, this book is hard to understand if you don’t have a basic understanding of Japanese mythology, specifically the sun goddess and how Japan was formed. I would give this book an 8 out of 10.

 

Ogiwara, N. (2005). Dragon sword and wind child. San Francisco: VIZ Media.



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