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Friday, January 27, 2017

Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones

Sophie is set to a peaceful life of a hatter in the family's business as the eldest of three daughters. She accepts her boring and unwanted fate, until she draws the eye of the Witch of the Waste who places a curse on her.

Under the curse Sophie is unrecognizable and since she is unable to tell others about it, she sees the only option is to run away and seek another life. On her journey to find a new life and break the curse, she makes acquaintance with a cast of curious creatures, including a scarecrow, a dog, a demon, and the notorious wizard Howl.

Sophie's wit and determination to see things through, whether it's cleaning a house or finding a cure, is admirable. Parents will love the good lessons their children can learn from Sophie and children will love the magical characters and the world they live in. Highly recommended whether parents reading to their children or for an independent reader.

Books in the Series:
Castle in the Air
House of Many Ways

Recommended Reading:
Protector of the Small
A Wrinkle in Time
The Giver

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick

When the Allies lost World War II, the United States of America is split into two parts. The Pacific States of America are occupied by Nippon (Japan) former western United States, while Deutschland (Germany) takes over the eastern side. Between these two nations is a buffer neutral zone.

In this tangled storyline, multiple characters muddle through life under the oppressive regimes, utilizing the I Ching oracle at pivotal moments to determine what do next. While Frank Frink (formerly Fink, who escaped the Nazis) seeks his fortune by selling artifacts with a friend, while Juliana, his ex-wife, makes a career of being a Judo instructor.

As the story proceeds each character gets glimpses into alternative realities, not their own, until finally the truth of their existence is revealed.

As with many of Dick's stories the ending is somewhat open-ended and the reader has to be a bit keen to understand the conclusion. My favorite feature of Dick's works is his ability to capture the human condition of any character he writes. I loved every moment of this book and I hope readers will continue to enjoy this for generations to come.

More by the author:
The Minority Report and Other Stories
A Scanner Darkly
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

TV Adaption:
The Man in the High Castle - TV Series

Inspirations for this book:
Bring the Jubilee - Ward Moore
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - William L. Shirer
I Ching: Book of Changes - translator: Richard Wilhelm

Friday, January 13, 2017

Adventure Time Volume 1 - Ryan North

When the Lich returns to the Land of Ooo, stronger than ever, it's up to Jake the Dog and Finn the Human to save the day. Unfortunately they don't find themselves fighting in the familiar kingdom. They are at a disadvantage when they find themselves in an unfamiliar desert, where they meet a new and unusual Princess with powers that may just save the day.

Of course, where would Finn and Jake be without the help of the familiar royalty from Ooo? The super smart Princess Bubblegum and the Vampire Queen Marceline are more than willing to help. Even Ice King and Lumpy Space Princess decide to step in to save their beloved land. Although each for their own reasons.

Even if they do manage to defeat the Lich, there's bound to be more trouble after he meddles with their unusual and magical world.

As a fan of the show I was happy to see many of my favorite characters in action. The artwork is an excellent match to the television series and the humor translates well in the dialogue.

Anybody new to the series may find it a bit difficult to pick this up, since there are no character introductions, but fans will have no problem diving straight into the action.

Books in the Series:
Adventure Time Volume 2
Adventure Time Volume 3
Adventure Time Volume 4

Original Adventure Time Television Series:
Season One
Season Two
Season Three

Friday, January 6, 2017

Angel and Demons - Dan Brown

Harvard professor Robert Langdon is world-reknowned for his research and knowledge of symbology, a quiet study that typically only comes to call during conversations about architecture and history. When he is called away to a Swiss research facility to help interpret a symbol burned into the skin of a man it is just the first step in a nightmare of events. A mad man with a vendetta against the Catholic Church has decided to strike when the church is at its most vulnerable, during the election of a new pope, and has also stolen a container of experimental matter that will explode if not contained properly.

With the help of the scientist Vittoria Vetra, Robert Langdon must stop this man from destroying the Holy Roman City.

The two main characters, Robert Langdon and Vittoria Vetra, are both smart and keep the story going with their knowledge, but neither of them are particularly interesting personality-wise. With the time limit of the experimental matter and the threats of a madman this fast-paced thriller speeds along the plot. I looked forward to my drive every day while listening to this, so I highly recommend this novel.

Books in the Series:
The Da Vinci Code
The Lost Symbol