Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Hey everyone, sorry for the long wait. Life has been crazy with all of the homework I've been getting, 90% of it for AP History = (
Right now I'm actually supposed to be working on my English research paper, which I'm doing on gay rights. It's really easy though, and I'm already on page 5 and I only need 6-8 (if I can keep it that brief!) so I think I can take a break. Besides, I have 11 books that I need to review. I'm not going to do all of them now but I think I can get through at least 3, although I'm going to try and keep them brief.

So, first up!

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser

I read this book a few months ago because I thought it looked like a fairly interesting read. The book is a fiction one that tells the story of a teenage boy sent to a boot camp/reform school and the awful conditions he faces there that basically border on being torture. As the book progresses, the boy and a couple of others concoct a plan to escape from the boot camp.
The book was a fast read, I think I finished it in a little over an hour or an hour and a half, and it wasn't anything special. The only really interesting thing about it in my opinion was how it shows what boot camps can be like and how once you are in one, no one really knows what is happening to you.

I'd give this book a 5/10. Enjoyable read, but nothing special, by a long shot.

The second and third books are the first two in a trilogy by Lisa McMann. The first is entitled Wake and the second one is Fade. The third book actually just came out but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Basically the books are about a girl (whose name I cannot recall now) who has the ability to visit other people's dreams. In fact, its less of an ability and more of a curse, as she often gets sucked into people's dreams at very inopportune and sometimes dangerous moments. In the first book the girl befriends the mysterious/someone dangerous seeming boy Caleb, who seems to have a secret.

These books were also really quick reads, and both were very enjoyable. Considering what the story is about, I expected it to be more fantasy/science fiction but it was more of a realistic read that just happens to be about a girl with unrealistic powers.

I'd give these books a 7.25/10

Okay, well that's all I have time for right now. Hopefully sometime soon I can get a few more done. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I Am the Messenger

While I have nothing else to do, I figured I might as well do another book review. After all, I've spent about a month letting a small list accumulate of books that I've read. In fact, my Post-It note list of books I've read this year is sitting right by my bed as I speak.

Speaking of Post-It notes, they truly are more brilliant than I've ever given them credit for. I had my mom pick me up some from the store the other day and already I've found a need to use them for just about everything. I have six stuck to my wall on the side of my bed right now with notes about the different characters and plot ideas from Memories of a Star. I realized that for as well as I think I know my main characters, Morgan and Altair continue to surprise me. I also realized after rereading Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever (which, I will review eventually) that I needed to develop my other characters a bit more. For the most part Altair's family (all 8 of the children and his parents) are pretty well developed. It was just Morgan's family that I really needed to work on.

I have also decided to restart my writing for about the millionth time (okay only the 3rd). I really like everything I have in my current version, and so most of it will probably find its way into whatever I write next, but I realized that I wanted the relationship between Morgan and Altair to begin a little bit differently. I had always known that they originally didn't get along very well, but I had yet to actually show that in my book so that's what I am attempting to do now. I'm probably just making things worse for myself by not finishing what I start, but I couldn't keep writing knowing that I needed to make such a big change in my books.

Anyways, here's the book review I promised.

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak has been an author I've been meaning to check out for sometime, but didn't until I borrowed this book from the library, and I'm certainly glad I did.

I Am the Messenger is the story of Ed Kennedy. Ed is an ordinary 19-year-old taxi driver who spends his nights playing cards with his best friends.

Until the day he is caught in the middle of a bank robbery. When the entire ordeal is over, Ed receives a card in the mail. Not just any card, but the Ace of Spades. With this card and the ones that follow Ed must help others who need it, all the while not knowing who he is working for.

I'll admit, the premise of the story as I've described it sounds slightly strange, and perhaps a little more mystery-esque than it really is, but trust me when I say that this book is a must read. Perhaps its because Ed is such an ordinary character that his story is so interesting. All I know is that I was thoroughly intrigued whenever Ed went looking for the next person on the list of mysterious addresses that came with each card. Plus the ending to the story was really interesting/unexpected.

Definitely one of the best books I've read in awhile.

Rating: 9.2/10

Friday, March 5, 2010

Book Reviews etc.

You know, at one point in my life, I made deadlines. Really, I did. Back when I still did my newsletters on Fridays, Josh on another day and Brad on a third day. Ever since junior year started however, this has seemed to go right out the drain. AP US History may very well kill me. This week alone we had 2 outlines do and 3 documents to analyze. Not to mention the million other things I have to do in my spare time (the little time that that is)

Ahh well, I promised you (whoever you are- for all I know, its only me reading what I'm writing) book reviews. Though the main reason I'm doing this, even though I read these books weeks ago, is because I promised myself that I would review every book I read this year (in my spare time- I don't think I'll review books read for school, not that we read any in Murphy's class)

So here goes nothing.

First off, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. There are 5 books in the entire series and I have bought and read all of them. I even went with my father to see the movie. For ease I'm just going to review the entire series as a whole.

The first thing you should know about these books is that they are for younger teens/older children. But that hasn't stopped them from being an interesting and worthwhile read.

Quick summary of the series:
Percy Jackson is a demi-god. His mother is human, his father, one of the Ancient Greek gods. When Percy's life is put into danger, he is brought to Camp Half-Blood, where other children of the gods spend their summers. The 5 books revolve around Percy and his close friends Annabeth and Grover and the various quests they go on. Although each book has its own storyline, there is a bigger storyline involving a prophecy that may or may not be about Percy, which comes to fruition in the 5th and final book.

I was a little skeptical when I first started these books. The main character is 12 in the first one (although he has aged to 16 by the final book) and I wasn't sure if the books were going to be good. They definitely were. The great thing about these books is that they are fast-paced and exciting. I loved the different characters, and through reading these books have learned a ton about the different Greek gods and goddesses. Not only this, but the author Rick Riordan, knows how to keep the reader interested. The series only manages to get better as it goes along, and the fifth book is the best.

I would recommend these books to anyone, as long as they realize that they might not be as long or as sophisticated as other books they've read. Also, Riordan has another new series involving I believe the Ancient Egyptian gods/goddesses coming out this summer and another planned series involving different demi-god characters at Camp Half-Blood.

Rating: (series as a whole) 8/10

Also, quickly I want to talk about the movie. The movie is Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief. My opinion on the movie is slightly split. Although the cast is a little old to be playing 12-year-olds, I am actually a fan of who they cast for the different roles. Also the special effects are really cool. The only thing I didn't like about the movie was their need to change the plot. Its strange, the movie takes a different route than what happened in the first book, but essentially didn't change any of the meaning or screw things up for potential movie sequels. So although the plot did have a lot of changes, none of them hurt the actual storyline at all. I really did like the movie though so I'd give the movie a 7.8/10.

Next book review (I think I'll only do one more for today, but I have more to come)

Dear John, written by Nicholas Sparks

This was the first book by Nicholas Sparks that I've read, although I've seen both The Notebook and A Walk to Remember based off of his novels and enjoyed both of them (especially the latter). I had hoped that I would like this book a lot, just based off of that. Unfortunately, I didn't, at least not as much as I had hoped.

Dear John is the story of John and Savannah. John is a soldier in the army, when the story starts (prior to the 9/11 attacks). John meets Savannah at the beach, where she and others are staying, while they build a house for Habitat for Humanity. They fall in love but are separated when John has to go back to serve in the army.

While this story does a good job portraying what the life of a soldier might have been like, and the decisions they must have had to make regarding their lives and their families when 9/11 occurred, there wasn't much about this story that I really found that great. The romance between Savannah and John was nice, but short. The ending I found a little bit unexpected, although I actually did think it fit the story nicely. All in all, Dear John was an enjoyable read, but definitely not the greatest.

Rating: 6.8/10

Now, as I'm in the writing mood, I think I'm going to go work on my own story. I've recently decided that I need to make a few major changes to some of the character interaction between the main characters Morgan and Altair and slow down the pace of the story a little bit, so I think I will probably be restarting the story. Honestly this book has been in my head since the beginning of freshman year and I just want to finish it so badly. Unlike the many, many other stories that I have started, this is the first story where I know exactly how it is going to end. It is also the first story I've ever started that has a real title "Memories of a Star" and where I know most of the plot. Now I just have to get that plot down on paper, and make it good. Easier said than done.

Also a college student I know is trying to raise money for a film project he is working on (he's a film major, so he has experience) I've seen some of his stuff and its really good. His name is Mattson and the name of the project he's working on is Solomon Grundy. Check out this link here if you want to pledge money to help him fund this project http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wackeychan/bring-solomon-grundy-to-life or become a fan here on facebook- http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Solomon-Grundy-Born-on-a-Monday/311568597447?ref=ts

Ok, well thanks for reading!

Monday, February 8, 2010


I've been lazy. Well not really. I've actually read likes 7 books in the past week. Of those 7 books, I've reviewed 1 of them. Whoops.

To my defense however, 5 of those books comprise the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which I wanted to completely finish before I did a review of them. I think for those I'll just do a general overview of the entire series and tell you whether or not I would recommend them. I also read Dear John, by Nicholas Sparks, so watch out for that review soon as well. If I don't do them this week, I'll definitely do both next week during vacation.

In other news, I saw the Harry Potter exhibit at the Boston Science Museum this past Friday and it was sooooooo awesome. I even got chosen to be one of the people who was "sorted" into a house. Basically you were put into whichever house you said was your favorite. The guy asked me mine and I didn't really know so I was like "uhhh Ravenclaw?" and he was like "Are you sure not Slytherin?" And I shrugged and said I didn't know. So the sorting hat put me in Slytherin. Which I was okay with because Slytherin is for the wise and cunning and whatnot and I can totally be those things...sometimes. haha. But the exhibit was definitely really cool. There were the costumes from the Triwizard dance, and the Triwizard cup, and Death Eater outfits, and centaurs, and Dobby and Kreacher, and you could even throw Quaffles into hoops... and there was a ton more stuff. So if you haven't seen it yet, I definitely suggest going before it leaves Boston in a few weeks.

Anyways, I'll write later this week or next week with my book reviews. So definitely look out for those!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Ok, so it's been over a month. What can I say? I'm lazy and I tend to procrastinate everything. Just ask anyone who has talked to me the night before an AP outline is due.

So last week my family switched from Direct TV to Comcast. BEST DECISION EVER. Except for one minor detail, which actually turned out to be better than I thought. Our internet routers took like a week to come in, which meant that I didn't get any internet in my bedroom. I had to go into my mom's room and plug in my computer to the box thingy to get internet. Inconvenient, especially when I am so used to sitting on my bed as I am doing now and going online. It did however give me the opportunity to read, something I haven't been doing very recently. I know I said I'd do a book review for every book I read, and so far I've kept that promise. The last book review I posted was honestly the last book I'd read- until this week. So far I've read three and am almost done my fourth. Unfortunately, none of those books has been Boneshaker, the steampunk book I was really excited to read. I'm about halfway done that one and so far it hasn't been as exciting as I had hoped, which is why I've taken a temporary hiatus from that one.

I think I'm going to do a separate post for each book I review. I may or may not do multiple ones today since I'm 3 book reviews behind. The first book I'm going to review was the first one I read this new year- Emma by Jane Austen. Before Emma the only Jane Austen book I had read was Pride and Prejudice, but honestly I fell in love with it. Jane Austen may be one of the best writers that ever lived, which is why its a shame she had such a short writing career before she died. I had heard that Emma, the Masterpiece Classics mini-series was going to be coming on over a period of three weeks (the past 2 weeks and then this week) and so I started watching it. I watched the first two hours and had to know what happened next, so obviously I needed to actually read the book, which I'm now going to review for you all. (And by you all, I mean the approximately 2 people who may read this. Regardless, I'm going to review this at least for my own records).

Emma, like Jane Austen's other books, is a romance, although really it is so much more than that. The thing about Austen's writing, regardless of the book, is that she just writes so well. Perhaps it is a product of having been born in the 1700s that leaves her with a much richer vocabulary than most people I've come across today, but Austen just seems to have a way with words. And characters.

Before I go any further, I will quickly summarize the general plot of Emma.

Emma is a rich, educated girl who lives alone with her father since her mother died when she was young and both her older sister and her governess got married. Emma believes herself to be a matchmaker of sorts, claiming to have set up her sister and governess with their current husbands.

During the story, Emma vows not to fall in love whilst also attempting to set up her friend Harriet with Mr. Elton. That plan however doesn't always work as planned as Mr. Churchill and Mr. Knightly complicate things. There is also the story of another girl, Jane, and her mysterious suitor.

That was just a quick summary that does not at all do the story justice. The thing I love about this book, and Jane Austen's other books is that her books focus on the lives of characters. All of her characters have their own personalities and quirks, and her heroines aren't damsels in distress, but rather, smart, educated girls who have their own views and generally aren't afraid to show them. Emma is one such character- quick, witty, educated and perhaps overconfident in her own abilities to a fault. It is for that reason that Mr. Knightley, her close friend since her childhood, is able to provide a more rational, collected approach to life.

The only thing I could wish to ever change about Jane Austen's novels, is that I want a little more of the main romance and a bit less of the side romances and goings-on. But I guess that's just what makes her books so great is that they focus on many characters and make the story come to life. Either way, I can't wait to read the rest of Austen's works.

Rating: 8.75/10