Oh, this book. Hattie Big Sky now has a permanent place in my heart. I read it in a week, which is an unusual feat with my current schedule—but it's just that good.
Orphaned at an early age, sixteen-year-old Hattie Brooks gets passed around here and there wherever she can lend a hand and earn her keep. In 1917 everything changes when she receives word that a distant uncle has passed away and left her his homestead claim in Montana. But there's a catch: Hattie has to prove up on the claim and has less than a year to meet the government's requirements for land ownership.
As unusual as it is for a young woman to be homesteading by herself, Hattie's story becomes that of the many pioneers in our country who headed west in pursuit of a dream. Her prairie life illustrates the best and worst of America all at once—neighbors taking care of neighbors are juxtaposed with others who let the fear resulting from a far-off war feed prejudices at home.
I just can't say how much I loved this book. Hattie is a lovably real character who displays bravery, stubbornness, independence, loyalty, and love in rapid succession. One of my favorite parts about the story is the way she forces herself to maintain thoughts of gratitude when faced with bleak circumstances. Readers who enjoyed Little House on the Prairie and Caddie Woodlawn will find this Newbery Honor winner a lovely next step.
Without giving too much away, I should warn you that this was a two-tissue book for me. Hattie's life, like so many settlers, has its share of heartbreak. The events are within context however, and should be fine for readers who've handled books like Little Women.
The Pilgrims of Rayne is the eighth book in the spectacular Pendragon series. It is even better than the book that precedes it, The Quillan Games. I mentioned much of the format and basics of the series in my review linked to above.
The Pilgrims of Rayne is set on the idyllic territory of Ibara. Idyllic except for the fact that the government is keeping secrets from its people about the territory's past. This book is a very important installment in the series, and focuses more on the battle for all of Halla and the Travelers than just Ibara. The Pilgrims of Rayne is a must-read book for any Pendragon fan or anybody who likes fantasy. I'm looking forward to the next part of this series-Raven Rise-which is set to be released this May.
A book is truly amazing if it inspires you to write your own book just like it. Only a few books have done that to me: Warriors, The Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. And now Epic.
Epic is a game the people of the New Earth play to settle disagreements and to gain wealth in the real world. When you play, Epic recognizes most of your motions and words and makes your character do them in the game. You can also input commands into the system such as #smile.
When Erik, a young teenager, loses once again to the evil Inry'aat the Red Dragon, he decides to take a different approach to the game. He creates a new character and spends all of his starting points on beauty, which most players consider a waste. Then, he picks an almost unheard of class of Swashbuckler and names his character Cindella. Erik notices an odd thing happening: other characters are noticing him and waving, which doesn't usually happen.
Erik and his friends, Injeborg, Bjorn, B.E., and Sigrid, want to challenge the evil government, Central Allocations, to a duel to help the world, but their characters don't have enough money to buy good enough equipment. The main way to get loads of money in Epic quickly is to slay a dragon, an event that has only happened twice in the history of Epic. Erik has found a loophole in fighting Inry'aat though, so he and his friends set out to kill the dragon.
Epic is definitely a Best Read. I am very excited about the sequel that's coming out in May, Saga. Now, I'm going to go work on my book!
Operation Typhoon Shore is one of the most creative books I have ever read and definitely a Best Read. About 95% of the pages have at least one photograph, sketch, or databank that relates to the story. The book is mainly told in third-person, but Becca's diary entries, which are featured throughout the book, give her view of the story through a first-person perspective. I highly recommend reading the first book, Operation Red Jericho (which is just as great), before this one, as the second book doesn't give you much information about the events that occurred in the first one.
Becca and Doug MacKenzie are two children who live with their uncle, a captain of the Expedient and a member of the Guild of Specialists, on his boat. Though their parents are missing mysteriously, the MacKenzies are loyal to the captain, and go with him on a mission to find an evil man named Julius Pembleton-Crozier. They get caught in a typhoon on their way to his hide-out however, and are dumped on a strange island.
The rest of the story unfolds in a magnificent tale of betrayal, loyalty, and dark secrets. Operation Typhoon Shore is a spectacular book for a fifth level reader.
This book is one of the best books I've read in the past few weeks. It combines action, humor, mystery, and romance into one superb novel.
Dark River tells the story of three ThunderClan apprentices named Jaypaw, Lionpaw, and Hollypaw (all apprentices' names end with "paw"). Lionpaw has a forbidden love interest, Jaypaw is exploring his power to see into other cats' dreams, and Hollypaw knows a secret that could stop a war between the four clans. The apprentices grow stronger, but so do their problems.
I cannot say much about the plot of this wonderful book without betraying the feeling of excitement you get when you actually read it. However, I will mention that there is a near drowning at the end of the book.
Combining many different elements of a Best Read, I give this book the Best Read Banner for its commendable use of the English language and its stellar story.
Note: Something else that is incredibly impressive about this book is the fact that it does not use the word "said" once.
After I finished Just Grace, I held it in my hands for a while and smiled at it. It's one of those books.
Grace is a high-spirited, resourceful third-grader whose matter-of-fact observations are both true and funny.
"How Mom could forget something exciting like a postcard but remember boring things like how many bites of green beans I eat and if I remember to put the toilet lid down is something I hope I'm never going to understand. This is one of the reasons I am not so excited about turning into a grownup. The grown-up world is very filled up with boring rules about eating and cleaning."
Yet, like all children, Grace lives in a world dominated by grownups and has to accomplish her many goals while navigating through their rules. Which, when you're a superhero, can get pretty tricky.
You see, Grace has what she describes as a teeny tiny superpower. Her power is that she can always tell when someone is unhappy, no matter how much they try to hide it. (Her dad calls that empathy.) What makes it a superpower is that she feels she must do something to make the sad person feel better:
"A superhero has to help people in trouble. She can't just change into a regular I'm-not-going-to-do-anything-to-help-someone-else type of person even if she wanted to."
So when Grace discovers that her neighbor is going through a rough time, she has to find a way to cheer her up. The solution that develops involves a cat, some french toast, lots of glue, and a few stamps. And it's more perfect in its sweet simplicity than any idea an adult would come up with. Of course, that means it might cause a little trouble, which requires a pair of oven mitts, some pancakes and an unlikely alliance to solve.
With quirky illustrations, photos and comics throughout, Just Grace is a 100% delightful book that both girls and boys will enjoy.
It's hard to keep up. With so much in the world to explore and play with, sometimes it's darn near impossible to stay close to Mama.
That's the story for Daisy, and most likely your little ones too. We loved this book and I found myself quoting it often to Ben, especially as we wandered through Target (now it's more likely Ben quoting it to me as I get distracted by all the retail goodness).
When Daisy dawdles just a little too long, she loses sight of Mama and the world suddenly becomes a much scarier place. With just the right amount of suspense (for toddlers it will rank a few notches above hide and seek), we shiver with Daisy as she hears something coming. "If only Mama were here!" In the happy ending of this gently cautionary tale, Daisy adds a little wisdom to her perpetually playful nature.
This is such a fun book to read aloud, with great opportunities for expressiveness as Daisy quacks, bounces, splashes, bongs, and plops through the pages. The illustrations are gorgeous and envelop you in their warmth and richness. Get ready to read this one again and again!
Gregor and the Code of Claw is the fifth and final book in the Underland Chronicles. The series begins as a boy named Gregor (from the Overland—our world) falls unexpectedly into a strange new world, the Underland. Here he finds not only a different race of humans, but also giant rats, bats, cockroaches and more. He becomes the unwitting warrior who fulfills an ancient prophecy, and the adventures that follow find him learning not just about this peculiar place, but also himself.
To get you up to speed, in the previous book the queen of the Underlander humans declared war on the rats. At the beginning of The Code of Claw, Gregor learns of the Prophecy of Time, a prophecy foretelling his death. The prophecy also says that he must try and defeat the Bane, ruler of the rats, and that the Princess will help Break the Code of Claw, a code that the humans must learn to have a chance to win the war.
This book was very good. The plot flows along quickly, so there is never a boring moment. The story develops Gregor's relationships with the other characters in the series. This book is worth reading just for the climax of the story itself. Gregor and the Code of Claw is a wonderful fantasy book many readers will enjoy.