Thursday, September 26, 2013

Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

Valkyrie Rising

Goodreads Summary: Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.
My thoughts:
Style: Although at the beginning of the novel I must admit that I was a little worried about the writing level of Ingrid Paulson, as the story progressed my worries left, and I was able to thoroughly enjoy the story. I was interested from the start in this novel because it incorporated Norse mythology into the modern day world and I was curious as to how Paulson would carry this out. Although she may have played with the roles of some of the gods to further her plot, she did very well overall and I was impressed.
           Although there were a few times when the first person narrative was a little off, overall Paulson did a very good job of sticking to her chosen point of view and writing with out too many coma errors or run on sentences.
Content: The novel begins at a rather raucous teenage party with little supervision. Most of the teens are drunk, and Ellie is the only one above the influence of alcohol. The point of this scene is to illustrate a day in the normal life of Ellie Overholt and show the overpowering influence that her brother and Tuck have in her life. However, once the teens get to Norway things simmer down a little in the teen alcohol area. But, there is still a little bit of swearing and one questionable scene between Tuck and Ellie.
                   Elsa (Ellie Ells) Overholt - Ellie is sixteen, tall, blond and staying the summer at her Grandmother's home in Norway with her older brother Graham and his best friend Tucker. Ellie is strong willed but never acts on it, instead she lets her brother dictate her life as much as she hates him doing it. While in Norway Ellie discovers who she truly is and her courage, bravery, love, and compassion come out. She becomes a seriously kick-butt character, while still keeping her wits and compassion about her.
                   Graham Overholt - Graham is Ellie's big brother and although only a few years older has adopted the role of father towards her, since their dad died when she was little. He is the most popular boy in their school, smart, quick thinking, brave, athletic and good looking. As such he often overshadows his younger sister. He is also overly protective of her, as well as down right fierce. When upset he is a force to be reckoned with.
                   Tucker Halloway - Tucker is Graham's best friend, as well as a perpetual teaser of Ellie. He is brave and loving as well as a player, flirt, good looking, sarcastic and strong. He is every bit the athlete and just as protective of Ellie as Graham is. When Graham disappears however, his playfulness leaves, and the real Tucker Halloway comes out, ready to do anything to save Graham and protect Ellie.
                   Hilda Overholt - The grandmother of Ellie and Graham, Hilda is a strong, tall and confident woman whom the town fears. She has unearthly power about her and when she gives a command it must be obeyed. She will do anything to protect Ellie and Graham.
                   Astrid - Astrid is the leader of the Valkyrie, she is fast, strong and cunning. She knows her job and does it well, almost too well. On the outside she is cold, fierce and cruel, it is not until Ellie questions her that we as the readers learn what really is going on inside her head.
                   Loki - Loki is the god of mischief, pranks, and misdemeanors. Although he may appear to be on the side of Ellie, he always has his own intentions at heart and will stop at nothing to achieve them. His ultimate goal is to humiliate Odin.
What did I think?
I really enjoyed Valkyrie Rising and hope that there are more books to come in the future. I think that it is one book that lovers of Norse mythology should definitely read, because of the interesting light that it sheds upon Odin and his Valkyrie and halls of Valhalla. My favorite characters were Ellie and Tuck. I loved how they came through their conflict stronger than how they went in. I also loved the mythology surrounding the character of Tuck and how that played into the story. Everything about Tuck drew me to him, at first he seemed to be one way and then another until his character was a complete contradiction it was not until we learned the real truth about him that his whole character made sense. I liked the tender moments between him and Ellie and the loyalty which he willingly gives to her and Graham. Ellie was awesome. I really loved the intense loyalty and love she felt for her family and Tuck. I sometimes feel that the element of family is often missing in YA books today, but it was clearly present in Valkyrie Rising.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


One of my favorite Disney movies is Beauty and the Beast. I always wanted to have a library like the one in the Beast's castle (and let's face it, I still do).
As a side note, if you haven't read Beauty by Robin McKinley, it's a great retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story, and it has an awesome library in it.

Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, England, also has a pretty amazing library. I would be fine having this in my house (assuming that I had a house large enough).

Thomas Jefferson's library (recreated in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.) is much smaller and less impressive, but has a nice, cozy feel to it. You can imagine Jefferson feeling at home and comfortable among his books.

Then, of course, there is the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England, featured in the Harry Potter movies. The Bodleian houses medieval manuscripts, Shakespeare Quartos, and papers belonging to Jane Austen, T.S. Eliot, and the Inklings, among others. Some of the books are chained to the wall.

What's your dream library?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Stardust by Neil Gaiman


Goodreads Summary: Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria - even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie - where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman comes a remarkable quest into the dark and miraculous - in pursuit of love and the utterly impossible.
My Thoughts
Style: I am a connoisseur of fairytales, and I do not say this lightly. I have read all of the Grimm fairytales, many of Hans Christian Andersen's, a multitude of Scottish folktales, some of Perrault's, and many others. Fairytales have a certain structure and style which make them unique. Details are more often than not, absent from these tales, and the authors expects that the reader will suspend his disbelief until the end of the tale. Neil Gaiman wrote Stardust as a fairytale of adults, and he nailed it. His style is immaculate, and reminiscent of the style that a fairytale should be written in. There are many times that he gives details, often gory ones, but then there are times when things are not explained, or the readers disbelief must be suspended. Indeed, he writes in the true style of a fairytale.
Content: Stardust, is just what it's author claimed it was, a fairytale for adults. Therefore, there are some very gory parts involving blood and death, as well as two small and brief sex scenes, one at the beginning and one near the middle. However, this does not mean that the main character Tristran Thorn is not a perfectly sweet, and innocent young man, who follows his heart, and better judgment to help those around him.
                 The story starts with a strange encounter with Dunstan Thorn and a slave woman at the faerie fair in the meadow next to the city of Wall, Tristran is the result of this "encounter". The reader learns that Tristran Thorn is quite an unusual youth who always seems to be in another world, and is infatuated with the belle of the town, Victoria Forester. He promises her that he will bring her anything she wants if she lets him kiss her and marry her. She asks for a falling star, and thus without any delay Tristran sets out into faerie to retrieve it.
                 Meanwhile the 81st Lord of Stormhold is dying and throws a pendant into the sky which knocks down the star. The son who retrieves it will become the next Lord of Stormhold. However, this is not an easy task as the brothers are cut throat, and have already disposed of their other siblings.
                 As the story continues we learn of three witches who eat the hearts of young people and especially fallen stars to regain their youth, thus, another seeker is sent for the star. However, the witch queen is the most cut throat and dangerous of all.
                 Throughout the story Tristran meets many strange and marvelous people and creatures, including man eating trees, a small hairy man, a unicorn, a lion, the crew of an airship, the witch queen, and of course the fallen star: Yvaine. The story is the tale of how Tristrans grows and learns what really matters in life, and how to be optimistic through out all the storms. And how sometimes what we think we want is not what we want at all.
What did I think? I LOVED Stardust the characters were dynamic and easy to love / hate. I loved the themes of compassion, trust, determination, and love that ran throughout the novel. My favorite character was Tristran Thorn. I loved his strange abilities, courage, and steadfastness. I also enjoyed the fallen star: Yvaine. Her transformation concerning her relationship with Tristran was gradual and extremely well written. I was also amazed by the compassion that she was able to show the witch queen at the end of the novel.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 22 - Hobbit Day

This Sunday, September 22, is Hobbit Day! For those of you who may not know what Hobbit Day is, it's Bilbo's and Frodo's birthday. It's also the first day of Autumn. So, obviously it needs celebration. All around the world people will be celebrating the world of JRR Tolkien. Here are some photos of what my family did last year for Hobbit Day.



You can make a party tree too! All it takes is lots of glass jars, string and small candles. The electric candle works too, but a real one is brighter. We also created a Hobbit hole out of cardboard. We used two large boxes, which once flattened could be painted and then attached to a wooden frame. To cut out the door we simply used a box cutter. The façade of Bilbo's house was a huge hit, and not that hard to make. Now you're probably saying to yourself, well that's all great, but how in the heck did you know what hobbits eat? We simply visited for recipes and ideas. Overall we had a blast, how will you celebrate Hobbit Day?

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Hey, I just wanted to say welcome to our blog! We appreciate comments, recommendations, and followers. Also don't forget to check out my book cover designs! We look forward to sharing our opinions about books with you!