Life's hard.

It's even harder when you're stupid.

John Wayne

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer★★★★☆

The Last Guardian (Artemis Fowl, #8)

Go Big or Go Home!
Fiction –YA-Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Reading Level: Age 10 and up
328 pages
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Artemis Fowl Book 8
Literary awards:  Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production Honor (2013)

Opal Koboi is back and Artemis Fowl and his allies must once again come together to fight off of the largest threat facing them yet.  Opal Koboi’s latest plot plunges the Lower Elements and the Human World into chaos, but that is only the beginning.  With the resurrected spirits of fairy warriors protecting her Opal has one night to unlock a key with the power to wipe out all humans on the surface of the earth.  Artemis must pair his cunning with Butler and Holly’s skill to stop Opal or die trying.  If they should lose the loss will be too great to imagine, but if they win at what sacrifice will it come from.

My first observation while reading this book were the chunks of time I lost, because I was so caught up in the story; always a good sign.  Second, was that the story launches right into the heart of things from the very beginning without a lot of needless build up ( this is not the book to read if you haven’t already invested in the series).  To the very end Colfer creates another imaginative plot line, saving his biggest story for the last.  He managed once again to expertly weave an action packed story that is easy to follow, with well-developed characters and humor.  Always attentive to details Colfer even invests in his secondary cast of characters taking them beyond the typical one dimensional characters you usually see in other books. I also love his use of the narrator and really enjoy all the extra info and tidbits the narrator provides. 

Colfer brings Artemis’ quest for change to a nice final resolution.  It was really interesting to see Artemis develop over the course of the books.  Usually main characters in series do not change much (i.e. Stephanie Plum Series) and that is what keeps the story moving forward.  But in this case Colfer allows Artemis to take full ownership of his humanity, moving him from selfish master criminal to someone willing to sacrifice for the good of others,  while not losing the characteristics that come together to make him Artemis Fowl; the intelligence, confidence, cool detachment and ability to keep his eye on the goal.

If I had to nitpick for something I didn’t like about the book it would be Foaly’s and the fairy situation underground.  I feel like I had a decent amount of investment into that situation without much of a payout. 

Over all I am a happy girl.  While this book wasn’t my favorite in the series (that honor goes to the Eternity Code) this book was still pretty great and a worthy ending to the series. 

P.S. With the wind up of this series I have decided to add them to my Chosen One’s List.

ISBN  1423161610 (ISBN13: 9781423161615)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson★★★★☆

The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

It’s not my fault and other wonderful things I learned from this book!
Non Fiction – Humanities
272 pages
Publication Date: September 1, 1991

This book provides a very interesting and thought provoking look into the development, history, and eccentricities of the English language.  From the words formed through error-sweetard to sweetheart and buttonhold to buttonhole(pg. 71), adoption- ketchup from China and shampoo from India (pg. 73), and creation-fun, gloat and blizzard to the evolution of words like girl-originally used during Chaucer’s day to mean any young person, whether male or female (pg. 78).  To the quirks without explanation: such as less meaning a negative but not in the case of priceless (pg 81) and the strange pronunciation of words like: paid-said, heard-beard, and low-how (pg. 85).  Bill Bryson explorers them all and even more in this book.

This fascinating subject raises some very interesting concepts (like the fact my grammar and punctuation problems are not my fault, but the fault of inconsistencies in English, and I have to tell you I’m glad to hear it.  Take that with a raspberry I blow in your general direction every teacher I ever had trying to make me conform to their ideas of correct grammar and punctuation.).   The writing was well done and densely packed with information.  I’m usually a fairly fast reader, but with the amount of information this book conveys I found myself moving at a much slower pace and I believe it may take a few readings to really grasp all of the ideas.  Also, be aware of the fatigue factor as your brain tries to absorb the information; this is not a book you can just breeze through.  The Mother Tongue has been touted by many as witty-particularly those trying to sell it.  While I did find it very intriguing and marginally amusing, Bryson’s anecdotes never crossed over to outright funny for me.

It should be noted some controversy surrounds Bryson's conclusions and examples.  Several other reviewers claim The Mother Tongue is full of inaccuracies; I cannot either validate this opinion or dismiss it.  I just don’t know enough about the subject to weigh in.  I would, however, be very interested in seeing an updated version of this book to see what changes of opinion Bryson would make with more current information or the inaccuracies he saw fit to fix, if any.  My advice would be to not take everything he says as the gospel truth (skepticism if used properly can be a friend).  And as with any vaguely scholarly subject, if you are really interested, do your own research. Ask questions like, does his information match up with what you already know?  Look at the validity of his source material, read more recent articles and books on the subject, and figure out whether you would come to the same conclusions as Bryson (remember critical thinking from your college days, yeah it can apply to real life) .

ISBN 0380715430 (ISBN13: 9780380715435)