Thursday, December 20, 2018

Record of the Lodoss War

Record of the Lodoss War: The Gray Witch by Ryo Mizuno

Parn, a reckless but passionate swordsman embarks on a quest to discover the source of a great evil overwhelming the country of Lodoss Joining him are Deedlit, a young elf wielding great magic; Ghim, the tough-asstones dwarf; Etoh, a fledging priest; Slayn, the group's sorcerer; and Woodchuck, their indispensable thief. Together, this iconic group will join forces to discover the truth behind a world torn apart by ancient deities and wield the power needed to defeat the Grey Witch!

I saw this at Bucky and Donna's one day but ended up buying it off Amazon because it was way cheaper. I also watched the anime too, which has dorky animation but a cool storyline.

This book was okay. I will probably read it again but it isn't my favorite of the anime adaptions. It doesn't add anything to the story and the characters are flatter than in the anime. But what can I say, I have a thing for fantasy and dragons and all the nine yards even with a dorky plot.

Parn is not the ideal kind of hero. He is very loyal and brave, but there just felt more to him in the anime. In this he just came off as rather silly at times. But in spite of all that it was a fun book to read and I am not sorry I own it. I think The Twelve Kingdoms has just set my expectations high.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

“I'd rather be in danger with you than be safe without you.”

The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono

This is the first in a fantasy series written by a Japanese author and translated into English. it is a seven book series but, sadly for everyone but those who can read Japanese, only the first four books have been translated. 

The story is about a girl named Yoko, who lives a fairly normal life, attending High School and generally just trying to be a good girl so no one gets upset with her. All that changes the day a mysterious man shows up at her school, a man named Kieki. He is followed by monsters who attack Yoko and destroy part of the school. Yoko is then taken to another world where Kieki goes missing and she is left on her own with only a sword she can draw and monsters which fight her every day. Worn and to the point of death, Yoko seeks help but is no longer sure who she can trust after she is continually betrayed.

This was the second novel which was translated from Japanese I read and I loved every moment of it. I can't say this about all Japanese novels, since I've only read a few, but the ones I've read are incredible and filled with wonderful characters and story telling.

During Yoko's journey she meets an interesting cast of characters and because the reader feels as betrayed as she does when someone turns out to not be trustworthy it is hard to know who is there to help and who wishes her harm.

The pictures in this novel are lovely and make me wish so much I could get my hands on the manga just to look at the drawings. (There is also an anime which I started but watched episodes out of order by accident so need to start over.)

The story is exciting and well written and I can't wait to start book two.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

“Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug."

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.
Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.
Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images.
Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.
Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.
Caden Bosch is torn.

This was the second book I read about mental illness and this one I related to even more than the first. It showed in terms I can relate to, what it feels like to be pulled down into a mental illness.

Caden tells the story, how he starts to slip from anxiety to something more. How everyone at first thinks he's on drugs until they realize the truth and then no one really knows how to handle it.

The subject is tender and hard for most to talk about, let alone write about, but this book handles it well. It is delicate but bluntly open and takes it at face value. It is very open while being caring.

There are swear words throughout the book and hints at a disregard to God. But it is one I can still recommend.

"No. I'm being ironic. Or is it sarcastic? I can never remember."

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

This was my first ever ghost story and I put it off for far too long because it was a ghost story and I didn't read them. Oh the irony, get it? Get it?

Moving on.

Set in an alternate, modern London where hauntings exist, known as The Problem, this book is told through the account of Lucy, a young agent who moves to London to work with one of the big agency which solve The Problem. Instead, she ends up with the smallest agency, run by Anthony Lockwood, a reckless nut whom you can't help falling in love over, and his "friend" George. Lucy, Lockwood, and George, like only children and teens can do, can see ghosts and fight them, adults cannot see them but can sense them and be killed by then.

At the start of the book the team destroys a house during one of their cases and is sent to redeem their mistake by facing one of the worse hauntings London knows of.

This book is a good balance of humor and good, old fashioned spooky. The characters are fun and have the right mix of friendship with each other and wanting to strangle each other in their sleep. For a ghost story I can safely say it is a lot of fun to read, and there are parts that make it extra creepy to read in the dark at bedtime. (The room which turned red? The monks? Yeah, definitely creepy.)

Well worth reading.

“Making tea is a ritual that stops the world from falling in on you.”

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud

Lucy's is back, and you can guess that where Lucy is Lockwood, George, Holly, and the Skull aren't far behind. At least if Lockwood has anything to say about it. And trust me, he's finally getting to the point where he's saying something about it.

"What did we find in the department store?" "Well, I found Lucy."

This book was probably my favorite out of the series so far. There were several reasons why. Like how Lockwood snuck Lucy back into the agency and those two dopes finally started opening up to each other. Also, let's not forget how reckless and crazier Lockwood is without Lucy around to keep him in check.

But there are other reasons this book is my favorite too. The Skull's sass and the fact he clearly only has one friend, Lucy, and doesn't like to share her. At. All.

The journey into the spirit world. That scene was amazing and creepy and I loved it.

The fact we get a reminder that George can't hit a target worth beans.

Holly and Lucy finally bonding.

The fight between Rotwell and Lockwood. 

And lastly, Kipps. Yes, I said that right. Quill Kipps himself is back and is on the agencies side and is hilarious and precious and I feel as if Stroud tricked me into liking him. But there you have it. 

Oh, and I made a discovery this book. I am a 100 percent confident Stroud named Lockwood after himself like some proud parent and no one can convince me otherwise.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

“Just because you see something doesn't mean it's really there.”

Calvin by Martine Leavitt

As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes.

He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson.

I wasn't sure what I expected out of this book. I first heard about it from a trusted friend, who typically doesn't like this type of story anymore than I do. But then I wanted to do research for one of my own books and picked up a couple which deal with mental illness. This was the first of those. I wanted to read books which dwelt with the subject of mental illness but handle it well. In that area this did not disappoint.

Calvin is sympathetic but not to the point where you feel sorry for him but instead understand him. Seeing his illness from his point of view gives the reader a different look into his character, how at first he cannot grasp what is happening to him and goes from not being able to accept it to slow acceptance. His fears and doubts that Susie is going to turn out to be part of his illness, and his later fear that he will actually loose Hobbes all together.

There was a sprinkle of humor thrown in, but not where you laughed at the illness but instead laughed with Calin at his pluck. He was one determined kid.

There was kissing in this book which hinted at the possibility that the characters wanted to go further but were too cold to. Also I didn't like how God was spoken of in parts of the book, but the arguments for and against Him were ones which are common and were handled well.

I would recommend this book to anyone of older readers. It gives a good look on how it feels to suffer a mental illness.

Monday, November 26, 2018

“Don't kill her now, just when we've gone to all that trouble to rescue her,"

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

This book is nothing short of delightful. It is the perfect summer story about the perfect family in story telling. It is a mix of sunshine and non stop, quirky adventures.

I could go on and on about this book, but it is even better if you go and read it for yourself, and every book in this wonderful series.

The characters are wonderful and as quirky and delightful as the story, and Mr. Penderwick is the best father to ever grace a page. This book is funny and sweat, and like sitting on an old fashioned wood swing watching the sun set. A must read for everyone.