February 13, 2012

Title: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Director: Brad Peyton
Studio, Year: New Line Cinema, 2012
Actors: Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Vanessa Hudgens, Michael Caine

In a Nutshell: Sean Anderson is back, and he misses his adventure days. The trip to the centre of the earth with Trevor and Hannah seems like ages ago, and Sean is dying to go on another exploration. He finally gets his chance when he receives word from his missing grandfather about the mysterious island that Jules Verne wrote about. Sean sets off to find him and the island along with Hank, his stepfather, Kailani, a super pretty native, and Gabato, Kailani's crazy, funny dad.

The Good Stuff: The effects were awesome (especially in 3D!), and the actors portrayed their characters well. The movie had a good mix of adventure and humor.

The Not-So-Good Stuff: There were a few values in the characters that I didn't really agree with. Of course, there was kissing.

Viewer's Ratings:
Story: 3/5 - I liked it.
Execution (effects, etc.): 5/5 - It was amazing.
Characters: 4/5 - I loved it.
Character Values: 2/5 - It was okay.
Overall: 4/5 - I loved it.

January 11, 2012

Gathering Blue

Title: Gathering Blue
Author: Lois Lowry
First Published In: 2000
Reader's Rating: 2/5 - It was okay.

Excerpt: "Take pride in your pain; you are stronger than those who have none."

In a Nutshell: Kira is an orphan with a twisted leg. Living in a place where people who can't work are thrown out, she faces a dangerous situation. Fortunately, her extraordinary talent for weaving spares her from banishment. She is even provided with a new home, a new job, and a new friend. But as Kira learns more about her new surroundings, she discovers shocking truths about everything she, and everyone else, has ever believed in.

The Good Stuff: The author's writing style is quite good. The characters are pretty believable as well, and I love how Kira, Thomas and Jo are artists. I could relate to what they were going through. 

The Not-So-Good Stuff: The story ended too vaguely for me. I guess it would have been helpful to read The Giver beforehand (the first book in the series) but I didn't even know that Gathering Blue was part of a series.

Reader's Say: Gathering Blue was an okay book. Even though it's not one of my favorites, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the titles written by Lois Lowry. She is definitely a talented author.

December 20, 2011


Title: Holes
Author: Louis Sachar
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Year of Publication: 1998
Reader's Rating: 4

In a Nutshell: Stanley Yelnats is a middle-school-aged boy who was accused and pronounced guilty of stealing a pair of shoes owned by a famous athlete. The truth was, the shoes actually fell from somewhere up above and hit Stanley on the head but, of course, no one really believed him. His punishment was to spend eighteen months at Camp Green Lake, a camp for troubled youth (specifically, male youth). After arriving, Stanley saw that there was nothing green at the camp nor was there a lake. It was a dry desert area, where the campers were made to dig a hole every day that was five feet wide and five feet deep each. Working in the hot sun would turn a bad boy into a good boy, the camp said. But Stanley realized that they're not just "being turned into good boys." The warden was using them to look for something hidden under the sand. But what could it be?

The Good Stuff: I loved that the author is teaching kids something as well as entertaining them. Friendship was the main theme of Holes but what I loved most about it was the optimism and perseverance shown by the Yelnats family. The book was also written in a way that was interesting yet it wasn't sloppy. The story ties up together nicely.

The Not-So-Good Stuff: I felt like this book was saying that everything is controlled by destiny or fate. Of course, this is not something I believe in. I don't believe in fate or luck. I believe in the orderly plan made by Someone who is all-knowing, the Master Creator (if it wasn't rather obvious already, I'm talking about God). It's alright, I guess, to read this book, provided that the reader knows what to believe and what not to.

Reader's Say: The story is very good. There's also a movie adaptation of the novel and I highly recommend watching it. It's the only movie I've watched that stays really close to the book, to the point that the characters in the book and movie have the exact same lines. My parents also watched it and they liked it so I take it it's not a "bad" book. :)

October 22, 2011

Olive's Ocean

Title: Olive's Ocean
Author: Kevin Henkes
Publisher: Harper Trophy
Year of Publication: 2001
Reader's Rating: 2 - It was okay.

Excerpt: "Olive Barstow was dead. She'd been hit by a car on Monroe Street while riding her bicycle weeks ago. That was about all Martha knew."

In a Nutshell: Martha Boyle, twelve years old, receives a small envelope one morning from a lady who claimed to be Olive Barstow's mother. Inside she finds a page from Olive's journal and is shocked to find her name on it. She and Olive had never been friends and had never even spoken with each other, but they went to the same school and were in the same class. Now she can't stop thinking about her. They had such eerie similarities with each other. She hopes to forget about her when she goes on a trip to see her grandmother, but even there she was reminded of Olive. She didn't know that this trip would change her.

The Good Stuff: It was written well.

The Not-So-Good Stuff: It's a little weird how this book was in the children's section. It had some not-for-children words like "a*shole" and "sh*tty" and a small kissing scene. How inappropriate! The story was a little (a little!) shallow to me as well. Also, I didn't like the way Martha and her brother treated their parents and each other.

Reader's Say: I don't mean to be rude here but I didn't really like this book. It was a little weird and a tiny bit shallow. Maybe that's just me, but I don't recommend this book at all.

The Mysterious Benedict Society

Title: The Mysterious Benedict Society
Author: Trenton Lee Stewart
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Year of Publication: 2007
Reader's Rating: 4 - I really liked it.

Excerpt: “You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn't depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.”

In a Nutshell: A special ad appears in the paper, looking for gifted children. This ad unites four very different yet very special children, the final four chosen to take on a secret and dangerous mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. These four--Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance--must take on challenges that not even adults could solve, whether physical, mental, or even emotional. Will they reach success after all?

The Good Stuff: I loved how this book was very thought-provoking (it gave me a little head knowledge on Morse code too). I also loved the immense vocabulary it contained! This book is for kids, not even teens, yet it had words that I didn't know the meaning of. The characters were also good.

The Not-So-Good Stuff: The parts about the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened and the mind-controlling definitely creeped me out.

Reader's Say: I loved reading this book, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel. I also liked how the puzzles were mind-bending yet possible to answer by kids and teens. I especially liked the one at the end, to find out Mr. Benedict's first name, which was directed to the readers. The illustrations were also very good! I loved the illustrator's style; the fonts were so perfect!

October 7, 2011

The City of Ember

Title: The City of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Publisher: Yearling (Random House Books)
Year of Publication: 2003
Reader's Rating: 3.5 - I liked it.

Excerpt: “There is so much darkness in Ember, Lina. It's not just outside, it's inside us, too. Everyone has some darkness inside. It's like a hungry creature. It wants and wants and wants with a terrible power. And the more you give it, the bigger and hungrier it gets"

In a Nutshell: Ember is an underground city, created many years before by the Builders as a shelter to preserve the human race. Enveloped in darkness, its only light comes from bright electric lamps that hang overhead. Ember's inhabitants know nothing of the world above them and are perfectly content with how things run at Ember. Their small city, however, wasn't made to last forever. The once full storage houses of food and supplies are now running low.The lights are starting to flicker, causing blackouts wherein the people wonder whether the lights have breathed their last. Not one of them knows anything about what's beyond the darkness, but escape seems like the only option. Some of the citizens of Ember, though, are skeptical. Where would they go? Is there another world they could escape to? What is beyond the darkness?

The Good Stuff: The main characters of the story, Lina and Doon, are quite nice. DuPrau finds a way to make the friends heroes without them having to develop feelings for each other (a typical storyline among books and movies nowadays). Their relationship extends no more than best-friendship. I also liked how Lina was caring to her grandmother and sister, a trait that isn't as shown in today's books and movies.

The Not-so-Good Stuff: The only thing I didn't like about the book was the lack of vocabulary. It contained ordinary words, which isn't really a bad thing, but I particularly love books that have a wide vocabulary.

Reader's Say: The City of Ember was a fun and exciting read. Lina and Doon's lack of knowledge for common objects such as candles and boats amused me. I recommend reading this book along with the rest of the titles in the Books of Ember series. I also suggest watching the movie because it stays fairly close to the book.

I'm back!

Hey there, bookworms and movie bugs! My apologies for the lack of new posts. I sort of forgot the email and password to this blog. Too many social networking sites to remember, eh? Thankfully, I found the piece of paper where I wrote it down, and I have now returned. Hopefully, I will be able to write more posts and stick to writing in this blog more often. Thank you for waiting patiently. :)

Fellow bookworm and movie bug

July 15, 2011

The Friendship Doll

Title: The Friendship Doll
Author: Kirby Larson
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Year of Publication: 2011 [Yes, it's new!]
Reader's Rating: 4

Excerpt: " I feel a twinge inside my muslin chest, under the left side of my kimono. Since the day I was created, I have never had a moment of feeling unwell. What is causing this pain now?
I have heard it does hurt a bit, Miss Japan comforts me.
What does? I ask.
Being awakened.
What do I do to make it stop?
But Miss Japan gives no answer."

In a Nutshell: The Friendship Doll tells of the life and experiences of Miss Kanagawa, a Japanese doll sent from Japan to America, and how she meets four different girls, each with different stories. Bunny, the mischief-maker, is the first she meets. Then Lois, the dreamer. Then she meets Willie Mae, who, as the book says, not only awakened her heart but also broke it. And Lucy, her truest and most faithful friend.

The Good Stuff: The book is very well written. The story is just amazing (it's a Newberry Honor winner, after all!). I can't even describe it. The best part was the ending; it almost got me emotional! This book is a definite must-read.

The Not-So-Good Stuff: I don't really think there were any in this book.

Reader's Say: I enjoyed the story. I think Kirby Larson is a really good author. Now I want to read more of her books!

June 8, 2011


Title: Inkheart
Director: Iain Softley
Studio/Year: New Line Cinema/2008
Actors: Brendan Fraser, Eliza Bennett, Andy Serkis, Paul Bettany
Viewer's Rating: 4

Quote: "Since the dawn of time, storytellers have enchanted audiences with their words. But there is an even rarer gift. There are those, who by reading out loud, can bring characters to life. Out of books and into our world. Most of these Silvertongues, as they are known, prefer to keep their skills a secret but some do not even know this gift is theirs, until it is too late."
In a Nutshell: Inkheart. Mortimer, or Mo, as Meggie called him, knew that book well. She knew that there was something special about that book, from the way he always seemed to search for it. She sensed its being different from other books from their first encounter with the man called Dustfinger. She sensed its danger when men dressed in black clothing suddenly appeared. Silvertongue, that's what they called Mo. Taken captive, Meggie discovers that Mo, her father, is a Silvertongue. He could read characters out of books and bring them to life. When she learns that a freed villain has come back to life and is planning to destroy what she loves most, she must find a way to stop him, using something that she has discovered about her own self.

The Good Stuff: This movie is about books and stories and characters. Need I say more? (I also loved the scenery, Elinor's library, and the fact that Mo is a bookbinder.)

The Not-So-Good Stuff: There were few, if any. I really liked the plot and the characters.

Viewer's Say: This is one of my favorite movies. Also, it's based on the novel by Cornelia Funke (it also has a series). The movie was really good, but it missed out on some details and events so I recommend you read the book first. :)

[photos from Google Images]

Lemonade Mouth

Title: Lemonade Mouth
Director: Patricia Riggen
Studio/Year: Disney, 2011
Actors: Bridgit Mendler, Adam Hicks, Hayley Kiyoko
Viewer's Rating: 4

Excerpt: "Poets, geniuses, revolutionaries. Lemonade Mouth has been called all of these things. But the real story, the story of our band came to be, is a mystery to them all."

In a Nutshell: Five unlikely friends--Olivia, Wen, Stella, Charlie, and Mo--meet in detention and, like destiny, find themselves playing music together like it was the most natural thing in the world. Upon being heard by the music teacher, they decide to become a band, Lemonade Mouth, and join the school's talent show to prove to the sports-fanatic principal and to the whole school that sports isn't the only thing that matters. The five friends are amazed at how the students gradually accept--and need--them. Lemonade Mouth was their voice, their way to be heard.

The Good Stuff: I may or may not have made Lemonade Mouth sound cheesy but, trust me, it really isn't! I like the message of this movie. Also, there was a budding romance between two of the characters and, because of its being a Disney movie, I thought there would be...*dun dun dun*...kissing. Surprisingly, there was none! :)

The Not-So-Good Stuff: The message of this movie is that everyone has a voice, even children, and everyone has a right to be heard. I personally like it but it may encourage rebellion sooner or later. At least, that's what I think.

Viewer's Say: It was pretty good. It's definitely not just another breezy teen movie. (Also, it's based on a novel by Mark Peter Hughes!)

June 7, 2011

Serendipity Market

Title: Serendipity Market
Author: Penny Blubaugh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year of Publication: 2009
Reader's Rating: 3

In a Nutshell: Mama Inez knows that magic is everywhere and, somehow, connected to everything. She invites ten people to the Serendipity Market to tell their stories, every one of them unique and--from a distance--very different from one another. But look closely, and you'll find a common ground in each story--magic.

The Good Stuff: One of the main things I liked in this book was the vocabulary. Works by people with a wide vocabulary just blow me away, and this was one of them. I loved the way the author wrote; it was brilliant. Also, I loved how some of the stories are classic fairy tales but with a twist. They may be told from a different character's point of view, for example, like the lizard-turned-coachman from Cinderella.

The Not-So-Good Stuff: I hope you've taken it into your head by now that this book is about magic and fairies and the like. I'm a Christian and I don't really approve of magic and folklore (faeries, elves, giants, etc.). It made me feel a little uncomfortable reading about them, especially Maisie's story about the elf queen. It made the book a little dark. And one little thing that I didn't like: the Princess and the Pea retold version, where the prince is gay. I have nothing against gays but I really liked the original story better.

Reader's Say: This was an okay book. The topic was fine except that there was an overuse of magic. The vocabulary was beautiful. I liked it half-half. I would recommend it for the construction (vocabulary, grammar, etc.) but not for the content.

March 19, 2011

The Hangman's Curse (the Veritas Project #1)

Title: The Hangman's Curse (the Veritas Project #1)
Author: Frank Peretti
Publisher: STL (?)
Year of Publication: 2001
Reader's Rating: 4

In a Nutshell: Basically, the Veritas team (Elijah and Elisha Springfield, teenage twins, and their parents, Sarah and Nate) is a special team, privately and secretly funded, and is called to take on those especially strange cases no one else has solved from a Christian perspective. On this book, they take on The Hangman's Curse, the mysterious ghost of Abel Frye. So far three kids from Baker High are in the hospital because of it and it's the team's job to find out why. Is it some sick practical joke done by human hands or are spirits really involved? And so the investigation begins. But they soon find that time is running out. More and more victims have been targeted, students and teachers alike, and two kids have been found dead. The Veritas team must find a way to stop this before things get out of control. Or have they already?

The Good Stuff: This book is Christian fiction, by Christian author Frank Peretti. This series, I should say, talks about Truth and presents its case against what man has been taught about things like God and creation. I should also say that this book was definitely not "preach-y" just because it's Christian. There's actually not much in it about Christianity; it talks more about Truth (hence the name Veritas, Latin for truth). Also, the story was absolutely thrilling! It really had me in suspense.

The Bad Stuff: Like I said, there's not much about Christianity in the story. It was a good story but there wasn't as much information that I wanted, especially coming from Frank Peretti, one of my favorite authors. When I read this book, it felt like reading horror. It's not that scary, of course, but I'm not really used to reading horror so, for me, some parts were definitely creepy.

Reader's Say: I liked it, but there could have been more. The ending reminded me too much of a certain movie. The story was awesome but since this book is supposed to be about Truth, I think there should have been more about that.

February 17, 2011

I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You

Title: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Hyperion
Year of Publication: 2006
Reader's Rating: 3.5

In a Nutshell: Cammie Morgan has been nicknamed the "chameleon." At most schools, that's a bummer. Everyone wants to be noticed, right? But at Cammie's school, it's a gift that every student would want to possess. The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is not your average all-girls school. Passers-by would take one look at it and think: boarding school, snotty girls, rich dads, and perfectly trimmed gardens. But that's exactly what the Academy wants them to think. Because in reality, the Gallagher Academy subsitutes social studies for Covert Operations, English for Ancient Languages, science for Protection and Enforcement, and...you get the idea. In short, the Gallagher Academy is a spy school. And it's been training Cammie for hard spy life and impossible situations ever since. But then she meets Josh, a normal everyday teenager. Sure she can hack into his computer, throw him to the sidewalk in a split-second, and speak fourteen different languages, but when it comes to this, she's totally tongue-tied. And now, it's love vs. duty, spy vs. teenager. Which will she choose?

The Good Stuff: The concept is so unique. I mean, how many books have you seen where the girl falls for the guy and becomes totally speechless around him, but also happens to be a spy? Well, you might have seen some but I haven't. It was a good book. I loved the author's way of telling the story. It was funny too, and I LOVE funny books. :)

The Not-So-Good Stuff: The genre for this book is, of course, romance so expect *dun dun dun* kissing. BOO. I suppose all YA romance books have this, but it was still a turn-off for me. I guess this wouldn't be considered a bad thing, but I strongly disagree with kissing before marriage. So there.

Reader's Say: I loved Carter's style of writing. It was so witty. The story was great but in the end my reaction was sort of like this, "Wait, what? That's it? That's what happens?" It kind of dwindled in the end but it was okay. I'm still looking forward to the sequel. :)

January 20, 2011

The Princess Test

Title: The Princess Test
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year of Publication: 1999
Reader's Rating: 3

In a Nutshell: Prince Nicholas, whether he wants to or not, has to marry as soon as possible. And the girl he marries has to be a true princess, as the King and Queen so carefully make sure of. They devise a series of tests to pick the truest princess, but it seems that the prince has fallen in love. But not with a princess--he has fallen in love with Lorelei, a blacksmith's daughter! Prince Nicholas is determined to marry Lorelei, but how can a mere peasant pass tests meant for princesses?

The Good Stuff: Humor is good, language is good (for children), it's all good. And it's by Gail Carson Levine! Need I say more? :D

The Not-So-Good Stuff: This book has only 96 pages. It was really meant for young children. I don't really consider that a bad thing, but it doesn't have that much depth in it. It's a very quick read, for, say, when you're at the library and you don't want to check anything out (which is exactly what I did, haha).

Reader's Say: The Princess Test is actually a retelling of The Princess and the Pea. I love fantasy books and I definitely love Gail Carson Levine. Even though this book was a really easy read, I enjoyed it. It was good.

December 29, 2010

The Book Thief

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Publisher: Knopf Books
Year of Publication: 2006 (first published 2005)
Reader's Rating: 4.9

The Book Thief is a historical fiction, set in Nazi Germany during World War II, and is narrated by Death.

Excerpt: "I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant." 

"It's just a small story really, about, among other things:
* A girl
* Some words
* An accordionist
* Some fanatical Germans
* A Jewish fist fighter
* And quite a lot of thievery" 

In a Nutshell: Liesel Meminger was only nine years old when her brother died and her mother left her in the care of foster parents, a silver-eyed father and a swearing but loving mother, and disappeared. On that day, a book was left lying in the snow, with Liesel picking it up. The Grave Digger's Handbook. Not an interesting choice, but it started and kindled her love for books. Liesel soon learns to read, with the help of her foster father, and since then, has loved books and words, stealing them and taking them in from anywhere, whether from the Nazi book-burnings or from the rich mayor's library, anywhere. But her life is changed when her foster parents decide to hide a Jew in their basement. She then realizes how powerful words are and how powerfully they can destroy.

The Good Stuff: Have you ever heard of Owl City, the singer of Fireflies? Have you listened to many of his songs? Did you notice how crafted and poetic they sounded? The Book Thief is written exactly like that. The scenes and the events are so richly described, and so poetically. So that's definitely a good thing for me. Also, the story. It was so wonderfully written and it was so touching and kind of horrifying in a way. It not only told of the adventures of someone living during the Holocaust; it was deep. It was a very good read.

The Not-So-Good Stuff: The constant swearing! Like I said in my previous review, WWII books usually contain a lot of swearing, but this book had the most. I winced every time I read those darn swear words (even though most of them were in a different language). It was a big turn-off, but, really, it was their (the Germans') culture to swear a lot and usually, they're meant to be friendly, like Liesel calling her best friend Saukerl (I think that's sort of a male pig of some kind). But still, I'd have given this book a 5 if it wasn't for the swear words. :( It also has kissing, but only once. :(

Reader's Say: I loved this book. I absolutely loved it (it's just those stupid swear words and the kissing). I do have to say something about it, and it's this: if you like happy endings, if you like sugar-coated stories, if you don't want to know about what the Germans did before, then do not read this book. I have to say that it was so sad. I almost cried! I felt heartbroken when *he/she/they* died (don't worry, I won't be saying who). I also got kind of annoyed at the author because he put who died in the middle of the book! Haha! But other than that, I absolutely loved it so much. It was heartwarming and touching and everything else rolled into one. With what I said about the swearing, you probably won't want to read it but please do. It's a very nice story.