Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The World Above

Title: The World Above

Series: Once Upon a Time

Year: 2010

Author: Cameron Dokey

Summary: Gen and her twin brother, Jack, were raised with their mother's tales of life in the World Above. Gen is skeptical, but adventurous Jack believes the stories--and trades the family cow for magical beans. Their mother rejoices, knowing they can finally return to their royal home.
When Jack plants the beans and climbs the enchanted stalk, he is captured by the tyrant who now rules the land. Gen sets off to rescue her brother, but danger awaits her in the World Above. For finding Jack may mean losing her heart.... (from Goodreads)
Main Characters: 

Review: I enjoyed reading this. The way the author interwove Jack and the Beanstalk with Robin Hood was clever. The characters were believable, and each new page kept you wanting to read more. Gen was a wonderful narrator, and I enjoyed seeing things from her point of view. Of course, Jack and the Beanstalk has long been one of my favorite fairy tales, yet it has faded greatly in the popularity of other fairy tales such as Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, so there really aren't that many JatB retellings out there. This one was a gem as far as retellings go. And I'm looking forward to reading more of the books in the Once Upon a Time series.

My only real disappointment would be in the length of the book. It's really short, and that made the plot feel really rushed. I didn't get to know the characters as much as I would have liked, and I felt a little gypped. The ending, too, was a letdown, as far as the final villain conflict was concerned. But for those who prefer a light and enjoyable fairy tale, then this is the book for you; my curse is that I care too much for lengthy novels. *winks* So... all in all, a good, fast read.

Advisory: There was some light romance between two characters leading to a kiss. A bit of fantasy fighting as well, but nothing descriptive.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy The World Above on Amazon!

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Philadelphia Father

Title: My Philadelphia Father

Series: None

Year: 1955

Author: Cordelia Drexel Biddle

Summary: The true life story of Cordelia Drexel Biddle and her family, including her father Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle taking place in early 1900s. Mr. Biddle was an eccentric man who with his fortune was able to try his hand at many things. He was passionate about Christianity, the United States and boxing, the later of which often ruffled the feathers of the other socialites. This book spawned the play and later the movie The Happiest Millionaire. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
Anthony Biddle
Cordelia Biddle
Angier Duke
John Lawless

Review: My interest in this book was first sparked by seeing the old Disney musical The Happiest Millionaire. After really enjoying the movie, I decided I had to read the book to see how closely the two stories went together. Actually, the producers of HM did an excellent job following the story of "My Philadelphia Father." All the little tidbits about Mr. Biddle popped up somewhere in the movie: the chocolate cake diet, boxing the Marine, learning jujitsu, keeping alligators in the conservatory and believing them dead when a new maid left the window open in the dead of winter and the gators all froze in their tanks. There was some language uttered by a few characters, so I couldn't give this book a full, five stars. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to my friends. It's the type of book that my family would love to read aloud together on cold, winter evenings.

Advisory: Some language, and descriptions of fights.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Related review on my other blog: The Happiest Millioinaire

Click here to buy My Philadelphia Father on Amazon!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Heroes of Olympus: The Lost Hero

Title: The Lost Hero

Series: The Heroes of Olympus

Year: 2010

Author: Rick Riordan

Summary: Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
Jason Grace
Piper McLean
Leo Valdez

Review: In this sequel series to Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Rick Riordan includes the world that his readers have grown to love, yet there's a whole new cast. The main characters from PJO are still there, they've just greatly faded into the background. Leo, Piper, and Jason are the forefront of this story, and all three of them take turns narrating the story (pretty much every two chapters). While it was still entertaining, I did find myself missing Percy's first person style in the first series. And the fun chapter headings. But Piper, Leo, and Jason are fun characters (each with his or her own style of mystery/secrets - very intriguing), and their quest from Camp Half-Blood is excellently crafted.

The adventure seemed bumped up a notch in this series, but the pace was still fast and exciting, just what we were used to in PJO. But instead of following one demigod around, now we're on the tail of three of them. The Lost Hero is the first of another five-book series, and the end leaves you wanting more. Yes, it's a horrible cliffhanger. 

Advisory: Some language, and the obvious element with the secular Greek mythology being real. Plenty of monsters, so do expect some fighting and violence. 

The themes in this book seemed a lot more mature compared to the story of the first series, and I cannot say that I'm pleased overall with the taste this book left in my mouth. I don't mind the fantasy aspect with the battles and all, but the magical aspect of the Greek gods' and goddesses' power seemed to have a greater part in The Lost Hero than in the first series, and that I wasn't entirely fond of. 

While I did enjoy this book, I don't expect to read any more of The Heroes of Olympus series. I did some research concerning the next couple of books (The Son of Neptune, The Mark of Athena, The House of Hades, and coming in October, The Blood of Olympus), and I was very disappointed to discover some themes that Rick Riordan is introducing in the series. One character (name removed for spoiler reasons) falls into a disgustingly immoral life, immorality that the Bible clearly condemns, and for that reason, I probably won't be continuing this series.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Related review: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Click here to buy The Lost Hero on Amazon!