Monday, March 30, 2009

Book Review: The Hobbit

The first time I read The Hobbit, I was in sixth grade. I finished it, thinking it was a good book but a real snoozer, and didn't touch it again. Until, of course, this past weekend, when I decided to give it another go-round. I've read the Lord of the Rings trilogy several times through and love them all, so to me this is 'light reading.' This was my second time through it, and I was pleasantly surprised. While I remembered the basic story, I found that I'd forgotten several details. It is a lot lighter than The Lord of the Rings, and is good for when I want a taste of LOTR but don't have the time or inclination to go through them all again. The Hobbit chronicles the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and a band of dwarves as Bilbo helps them reclaim their home from the dragon Smaug. It doesn't have a lot of action in it (compared to the trilogy), as it's simply the beginning of the later adventures, but it's well worth reading. (Of course it is; it's a classic.) I am glad that I gave it a second chance.

Monday, March 23, 2009

my favorite mug.

Book Review: Missing Abby

I first picked this book up because I really liked the cover... sort of 'summertime Goth' (or something like that). I went on to read it because the title was rather intriguing. Abby is a girl who has gone missing, and the story is narrated by her once-best-friend Emma. But as the story progresses, it's also about Emma missing Abby and their old friendship. The story takes place in Britain. [Note: The American-born-turned-Brit author, Lee Weatherly, thoroughly confused me at first with her writing style, because there's a lot of British slang all through it, and it felt forced as well. But maybe Emma's expressions are simply how a thirteen-year-old British girl of today would actually talk.] It's sad at the end, but positive.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

into the woods...

just a couple of shots from the afternoon's hike.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Music Review: Muse- Black Holes and Revelations

Featuring the song "Supermassive Black Hole," this album has some really good, make-you-move tracks as well as some slower ones. All Muse, and all British rock, though. Again, this is something you may not hear much on the radio in the US, but it's fun. Not everyone who hears their sound will like it (granted), but I'd recommend at least a listen. Favorite songs of mine on this disc include "Starlight," "Take a Bow," "Map of the Problematique," and "Knights of Cydonia."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Book Review: Freak the Mighty

I first heard of this book after I watched the movie The Mighty at a church camp several years ago. Both the book and the movie are excellent. It's the story of two boys, Max and "Freak," who form an unlikely friendship. The book is aimed at grade schoolers (and if you're looking for materials for that age group, it teaches some great lessons, like the power of friendship and believing in yourself), and it made an impact on me then just as it does now. Read it, and if you get the chance, watch the movie, too. It's worth it!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

hello goodbye

Goodbye, old Verizon Wireless phone.
December 5, 2006 - March 13, 2009

Hello, new US Cellular phone.

Music Review: Owl City- Maybe I'm Dreaming

A friend of mine recently loaned me this CD, and while it's not what I'd usually listen to, I've really enjoyed it. I'd call it a sort of 'mellow electronica,' which in my definition means it's good music to relax to and makes me happy, without the dancing aspect that my usual music brings. With my dancing skills (or lack thereof), that's probably a good thing. :) It's good painting music, too. Adam Young is the name of the singer, and he's got some really nice imagery in his lyrics. If you're tired of the same old thing on the radio, this ought to shake things up a bit, in a hopefully pleasant way. Some of my favorite songs are "The Technicolor Phase," "Dear Vienna," "West Coast Friendship," and "The Saltwater Room."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Book Review: The Crown of Dalemark

And they're back-- Mitt! Hildy! Ynen! Moril! And introducing Maewen, a girl from modern-day Dalemark who gets thrown back in time and changes history. This last installment of the Dalemark Quartet ties the first three books together, taking us on a journey through Dalemark's history: past, present, and future. I particularly like it because Mitt's in it, and I think he's the best-fleshed-out character in the series. In my opinion, this book really makes the Dalemark Quartet worth reading.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book Review: The Spellcoats

Book Three is actually a prequel to the first two books, set in a much earlier time period (think early Mesopotamia, Dalemark-style). The story is told by a girl named Tanaqui, whose siblings are named Gull, Hern, Robin, and Mallard (or Duck). Together, they must flee for their lives from their home, Shelling, because they resemble the fair-haired, dark-skinned Heathens that have invaded their land, and their own people are beginning to fear them and turn against them. During the course of their journey, they learn that the evil mage Kankredin is trying to conquer the river and take over the land. Can they stop him before it's too late?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Book Review: Drowned Ammet

Probably my favorite among the Dalemark Quartet books, Drowned Ammet introduces us to Mitt, a boy whose life takes so many twists and turns along the way that I'd ruin the story for you if I told you about it. I will at least explain the title, however. "Drowned Ammet" is a straw dummy who is thrown into the sea at the Holand Sea Festival every year, along with his made-entirely-of-fruit wife, Libby Beer. No one knows why this tradition is held; but not doing so, the Holanders believe, would bring the most frightful bad luck for the coming year. It is also said that whatever ship finds the straw figure of Ammet in the water is the luckiest ship in Dalemark, and the crew aboard will have good luck all their lives. Naturally, while fleeing for his life, Mitt (and the friends he makes along the way, Ynen and Hildy) find "Drowned Ammet" in the water. Adventures ensue. After everything he originally thought to be true is shown to be false, he eventually comes to terms with it and eventually learns a little more about his true purpose in life.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Book Review: Cart and Cwidder

First in the Dalemark Quartet, this book by Diana Wynne Jones (author of Howl's Moving Castle) introduces us to Moril, an eleven-year-old boy who has grown up in a family of traveling singers and cwidder players. After his father is murdered, everything begins to go wrong, and Moril is forced to flee. Along the way, he must uncover the secrets behind his father's death and learn to use the power of the cwidder.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

rainbow bright...

Evidently, anyone can do this, though my version's not as good as the picture a few posts ago. You just have to pay attention to the book's spine! I got a little bored the other day, and so I rearranged one of our bookshelves (containing mostly children's books) to create this effect. If you're tired of the same old thing, try it... it's fun!

something bright and cheery

Just a cool pic to brighten up these long winter months and give everyone a break from endless book reviews. (I purchased this in poster form today; it's far more stunning in a larger size.) Like it? It's called "Sunset Pansies." :)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Book Review: Howl's Moving Castle

This book was one of my favorites long before the movie of the same name was released (rather than vice-versa). I first read it in early college, and I've loved it ever since. I can't really explain why I love it so much, but I think it's a combination of things: the descriptions are vibrant and colorful, and the storyline is unusual and set in a magical kingdom that I can't help but want to visit. I re-read it at least yearly, usually in the springtime. If you're looking for something exciting, happy, and uplifting, this is the book to read!