Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians - The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book One - The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
published by Scholastic, 2005
375 pages
Source: Scholastic Book Fair

Goodreads Description:
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seet to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stole, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves. 

My Review:
Lightning Thief was a very entertaining read, and I think Riordan did a great job with it. I loved the premise of the book - the Greek gods personified in human forms; Riordan embraces the structure of Greek mythology and correlates it all within the new revelations of Percy Jackson, demigod. The plot moved along quickly and made for a very easy read. 

The characters were lovable. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover made a complete trio (similar to the Harry Potter trio, but I don't want to draw too many connections there). Percy, passionate to save his mother; Annabeth, determined to taste battle; and Grover, clumsy yet consistent. I especially loved the Greek characters! Chiron, Charon, Zues, Hades, Dionysus, the satyrs... it was all of my favorite mythology lessons from grade school brought to life. The series is great for young readers to encourage further learning of Greek mythology, at least it worked for me. 

This was a fun read that promoted many conversations with my family members and friends who had read it before. The copy I own is actually a literature circle edition, which encourages discussion and analysis of the book to younger readers. It's a great book to discuss. It might not be overflowing with philosophy and wisdom, but it's very true to young readers. The characters struggle with parentage, friendships, and misunderstandings. Also, the mythology bits are always good to encourage readers to engage with the original myths of the novel's heroes. It's not a mythology lesson, nor is it meant to be, but its a stepping stone to understanding something new - even the realization that once these 'myths' were believed wholeheartedly to be true, and how much has really changed through history. 

I give this book four foxes. It's a good book for middle grade readers to engage with, but its still entertaining enough for the rest of us who just want to read a good story. Interaction with Greek mythology was playful and tasteful, and the characters were likable enough to keep the story interesting. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Daily Dahl 7/28/13

The Daily Dahl - Sunday Edition
28 July 2013

With my new book club, reading books before they are made into films, I became curious about past film adaptations. I wonder how book-to-movie films have fared over the years. Recently, it seems a high percentage of film adaptations come from popular young adult novels. While I enjoy a fast-paced paranormal fiction as much as the next, I wonder what the purpose of so many film adaptations for this specific genre may be. I don't have any kind of answer, I'm simply musing. Is this what sells? Is this what the next generation of movie-goers wants to see? It must be. 

Some older films based on books that I loved include The Godfather, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blade Runner, and Misery. 

Recently, some great films have included Perks of Being a Wallflower, Silver Linings Playbook,Life of Pi, The Great Gatsby, and pretty much all of the Harry Potter films. 

I'm really excited for some upcoming movies this year too - Sea of Monsters comes out soon and looks adventurous, I'm thrilled for Ender's Game, and at the end of the year I look forward to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Share your favorites! Any book-to-film adaptations that really bombed? I'm curious about your opinions.

Here's a great post about some of the top 100 books made into films, and if you're interested what's upcoming, check out this list. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Zahn's Review: Flyte by Angie Sage

Flyte (Septimus Heap Book #2)
by Angie Sage
Published by Harper Trophy, 2006

Goodreads Description:
It's been a year since Septimus Heap discovered his real family and true calling to be a wizard. As Apprentice to Extra Ordinary Wizard Marcia Overstrand, he is learning the fine arts of Conjurations, Charms, and other Magyk, while Jenna is adapting to life as the Princess and enjoying the freedom of the Castle.
But there is something sinister at work. Marcia is constantly trailed by a menacing Darke Shadow, and Septimus's brother Simon seems bent on a revenge no one understands. Why is the Darke Magyk still lingering?
Bringing fantasy to new heights, Angie Sage continues the journey of Septimus Heap with her trademark humor and all of the clever details readers have come to love

My Review:
As the story of Septimus Heap continues with Septimus Heap a year and a half into Septimus's apprenticeship, Simon comes and kidnaps Jenna. Septimus must try to find her and bring her home again. 
I liked that this book had surprises around each corner! It's never boring,and has a good adventure to the book. It's definitely a must-read. 
The characters are all wizards, princesses, and more. All are courageous, good and bad alike. 

I give this book five out of five foxes

Reviewed by Zahn

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Book to Box Office: A Film Review of World War Z

World War Z
Starring Brad Pit, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz
Directed by Marc Forster
Rated PG-13

The IMBD Synopsis: 
United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself. 

My Thoughts:
I was extremely excited to see how this book would be made into a film. After just finishing World War Z by Max Brooks, I couldn't quite see how this geo-political zombie warfare novel would be turned into a successful movie script. The novel is written like a historical document with many short clips from various survivors of WWZ. A film following even ten different war stories would have probably cost a fortune to make, so I wasn't too surprised when the trailer showed that the story would be told from a single vantage point. 
I think the film was a success. I really enjoyed the plot, despite it not being an actual part of the novel. It was clear that the film was inspired by the novel and I think the story of Gerry Lane was probable to the Brook's novel. The cast was well-chosen. There were some recognized faces and some actors that I didn't recognize, which made me appreciate the film more. The character's dress and makeup was very appropriate and, especially with the unfamiliar faces, I had no trouble believing in the cast. 
The zombies were good, but not quite what I was expecting. They seemed very tame compared to the zombies in Brook's novel. However, it should be taken into account that this film is rated PG-13 - the images couldn't be too graphic or it may have been rated R. Considering the rating, I was pleased with the zombies. They were sufficiently scary, but not disgusting and distasteful. 
The film seemed short, but I think it was actually a perfect length. It must have felt shorter because I was enjoying it so much! There was certainly a good level of suspense in the film with just the amount of relief. I wouldn't classify this as horrifying, but suspense/thriller would be an accurate genre. Perfect for me! I don't like too much gore. If you're the same then you'll love this movie. The ending is left with a few loose ends, but the novel is the same way. At first I was disappointed with the film's conclusion, but I don't think any other ending would have worked as well as that one did, especially in comparison to the novel. The film does have a major twist that doesn't occur in the novel. This twist was appropriate for the film adaption to move the plot along and give the movie its own unique attraction.
I would highly recommend this movie! Those interested in zombie films, this is a good one. Those looking for a good suspense or thriller, WWZ is a good film for lots of suspense without the horror. The zombies are appropriate for younger viewers, but they are still zombies - they might be too scary for some, but they are tame in comparison to the novels description. 

I give World War Z four out of five stars

you can read my review of World War Z by Max Brooks here

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: Blood-kissed Sky

Blood-Kissed Sky (Darkness Before Dawn #2)
by J.A London
Published by: HarperTeen
Pages: 338
Source: Library

Goodreads Description:
There was nowhere left to hide.

I thought vampires were our enemies - they controlled our lives, isolated our cities, and demanded our blood - until I meet Victor. With Victor taking over as the new Lord Valentine, things were supposed to get better. Instead, they're worse than ever.

Day Walkers, a new breed of vampires who can walk in the sun, are terrorizing the city. Blood supplies are low, and if Victor's vampires don't get enough, they will become infected with the Thirst - a disease that will turn them into mindless killers.

To stop it, I must journey across the desolate wasteland to the very place where the sickness began. I can only hope that the answers that await me are enough to save us all... before it's too late. 

My Review:
I don't have too much to say about this book. It was a difficult one for me to get through. I remember liking the first book, but once I started reading this sequel it seemed like everything went downhill. 

The plot was slow and difficult to get through. I wasn't captured by any of the events. Possibly because the plot was incredibly predictable. The authors might as well have put "this is foreshadowing. Right here. look." throughout the chapters because the foreshadowing was so blunt and tactless it made reading this book a bore. 

The characters were equally boring and ordinary. Each character seems inconsistent. Dawn's feelings are constantly changing, her leadership is always in question, and she's still spoiled. I can't say much better for Teagan or Michael. I did really like some of the vampire developments. Sin and the Carroltons had a slight twist in character that complicated them and  made them more intriguing; I wanted to learn more about them. I hope Victor returns in the next book too, to see how he develops as a the new overlord. I didn't think there was enough of Victor in this story in his new position, I really wanted to read more about how he was going to change the city of Denver. 

There were a couple of good chase scenes and scares in this novel that were exciting to read. I can't say I completely hated this book. It definitely had its moments of interest, although rare. I'm in no hurry to read the final book, although I probably will read it. It would be nice to have a conclusion to this story. I'm hoping the third book has more focus on the vampire families to give the story a new edge. This novel was too bland and forgettable. 

I give Blood-Kissed Sky two out of five foxes

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Daily Dahl 7/8/13

The Daily Dahl -- Monday Edition (because Sunday is somehow already over)
8 July 2013

Today I simply Googled the best books to read in college. Some of you may be familiar with the lists of literature's canon. These are hundreds of books that we are all supposed to read before graduating college, but how many of us have the time and resources to read all of them? I think it's great to read the books on these lists as well as explore new books. Anyway, what I liked about this article on the Daily Beast was that it asked current acclaimed novelists their opinion of the best book to read before finishing college. Find your favorite author and read his or her recommended book! This at least gives you a starting point. Many of these authors cited novels from the canon (here's an unsorted list from Goodreads). Listed were some good alternatives to popular books that may be too daunting for even the most literate person (i.e War and Peace). 

Article Title: The Books Everyone Must Read Before Graduating College
Found at
Published June 4, 2013

My Summary: 
Leading academics and authors give their opinion on books that are great for college reading and why. Some examples include Jill Lepore recommends Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Charlie Dicken's Great Expectations, Junot Diaz recommends Toni Morrison's Beloved, Cornel West suggests Adventures of Ideas by Alfred North Whitehead, Joyce Carol Oats recommends the Great Tragedies of Shakespeare, and others. This was a fun article to read (especially the comment section), but it doesn't truly offer an expanded list of recommended readings. I appreciated the insights of today's authors and scholars whom I have read and studied. There are books they suggested which I haven't read yet, and intend to read for my last semester of college. 

Of course, there are some personal favorites of mine that I was sad not to see listed by any of these authors. What are some books that you would take away or add to this brief list?

"The Books Everyone Must Read Before Graduating College." The Daily Beast. Ed. Tina Brown. Newsweek, 4 June 2013. Web. 8 July      2013. <>.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Book to Box Office: A New Kind of Book Club

Hey all! So sorry about that little disappearing act. I know I haven't posted in two weeks, but I'm back now!

I will be getting right back on schedule tomorrow with The Daily Dahl, although my post will be later in the day. I'm excited to be joining a book club this summer discussing the adaptation of book to film. I work at a cinema, so some of my cinema friends decided to start reading the book before the movie came out and of course I had to join in. 

I've already read and reviewed World War Z by Max Brooks and I'll be posting a film review next week. Right now I'm reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I have to start with the first one because I haven't actually read the series yet. The second book will be adapted to film shortly so I need to get reading! 

Any books you're excited to see the films of? Maybe you have some books in mind that you think would make great films. I'm excited to start discussing these two mediums in tangent. Obviously novels and films are very different, but both have their merits and I can't wait to explore them further. 

Here's what I'm reading now:

Opens 8/7/13

And here are a few books lined up for book club: 
Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Opens 8/21/13
 Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Opens 11/1/13

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Opens 11/22/13

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