October 28, 2009

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief (Movie Tie-in Edition) (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)Title : Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
Author : Rick Riordan
Reading Dates : 28 Oct - 31 Oct 2009

Book Summary of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.

Percy Jackson has always had a troubled childhood. But he didn't know how bad it could be until his 12th year. First, he vaporizes his Maths teacher Mrs Dodds who had transformed into a monster. Then, he finds out his best friend Grover is a satyr. Finally, he watches helplessly as his mother disappears into thin air when they are chased by a minotaur. It is only after his arrival at Camp Half-Blood, that he finds a part of the answer to both the recent occurrences and mysterious incidents throughout his childhood. Apparently, Percy like most of the other children there are demigods. Now, all he has to figure out is which of the Greek gods is his father, what is expected of him and how to go about rescuing his mother from the Lord of the Underworld.

However when the Lord of the Sea claims Percy, our young hero finds out that this may not be a good thing. Soon after, Percy learns that he can either choose to go on a quest which may get him killed or do nothing and be killed anyway. The reason for the recent bad weather plaguing New York is a war brewing between Zeus and Poseidon. Zeus's master bolt was stolen and the Lord of the Sky believes that Percy stole it for his father. Percy has only 10 days to find and return the stolen lightning bolt to avert a war between the gods. Percy agrees as the centaur Chiron who is sending him on the quest believes the real culprit to be Hades. Percy hopes to save his mother as well when he goes to the Underworld.

Percy and his companions, Annabeth and Grover soon realize however that their quest maybe doom to failure even before it starts. On their way to the Underworld, Percy and his friends must battle a string of monsters seemingly intent on ending their quest, the Furies, Medusa, Echidna and Procrustes. Even offers of help from Ares and Poseidon are suspect. Finally, when the trio do get to the Underworld they find out that not only is Hades innocent of the theft, Hades' Helmet of Darkness has been stolen as well and he believes that Percy stole it for Poseidon. Percy and his companions escape, realizing that another party is the chief architect of the current predicament. Someone intents to start a 3 way war between Zeus, Poseidon and Hades.

To their dismay, Percy and his friends discover that the true culprit is Kronos. He used another Camp Half-Blood inhabitant, Luke to steal from Zeus and Hades. When Luke was caught by Ares, Kronos induced Ares to join them. Although Percy wins a duel against Ares and recovers both Zeus and Hades' weapons of power, all is not well. The gods refuse to acknowledge that Kronos maybe awakening from his slumber. Luke too disappears after trying to assassinate Percy again. The only bright spot on the horizon seems to be the return of Percy's mother. Even the Lord of the Underworld pays his debts.

Book Review of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
I really enjoyed Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. This is both due to the the way the idea of the Greek gods and the characters in this story is presented. Percy is a fun and rebellious hero, not given to obediently following the orders of others, even gods. Percy mails the head of Medusa to the gods on Mount Olympus because he wants his father to acknowledge him. Idiotic but funny. Annabeth plays catch with Cerberus and gets the heroes into Underworld. The ploy succeeds because Cerberus maybe a ferocious beast, but he's also a lonely dog in need of a little love and attention. Then, there is the idea of the River Styx being littered by the garbage from the human world. Imagine that when we destroy this world we live in, we're also destroying our "Afterlife" whether Heaven or Hell. So since what we do in this life affects the next, we should take care of it should we not ? Anyway, great read. Which is why I'm off to read the next books in the series.

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October 2, 2009

Nightmares and Dreamscapes

Title : Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Author : Stephen King
Reading Dates : 1 Oct - 27 Oct 2009

Book Summary of Nightmares and Dreamscapes.
In Dolan's Cadillac, the protagonist waits for nearly 7 years to avenge the murder of his wife Elizabeth by mobster, Dolan. He finally achieves his aim by luring Dolan into a trap and burying him alive in the Nevada desert.

Freelance writer, Howard Fornoy tells of the events which lead to humanity's destruction at the hands of his genius younger brother, Robert in The End of the Whole Mess. In trying to prevent humanity from destroying themselves through war, the brothers seed the Gulandio volcano with a newly discovered substance to lower human aggressiveness. They learn too late that the same substance also promotes senility. Within 3 years of their action, the denegeration and end of the human race begins.

Long time schoolteacher, Miss Sidley discovers that alien or supernatural beings are slowly taking over the bodies of schoolchildren in Suffer the Little Children. When Miss Sidley attempts to halt the monsters' takeover by killing the children, she is arrested and sent to a hospital for the mentally ill in Juniper Hill.

Tabloid reporter Richard Dees is sent on the track of a serial killer he dubs The Night Flier by his editor, Merton Morrison. Dees is horrified to discover first hand that the killer is actually a vampire. He escapes death at the hands of the bloodsucker only because the vampire has had his fill.

Inveterate gambler Briggs Sheridan who has been selling the lost children he abducts to pay for his gambling debts gets more than he bargains for when abducts the grandson of a vampire. Popsy is less than amused and uses Sheridan to quench his grandson's thirst.

It Grows On You tells off the Newall house overlooking The Bend in Castle Rock. Residents of the town believe that the house brings bad luck to its owners or residents due to a series of events which have befallen its owners starting with the original owner of the house, Joe Newall. Joe Newall's only child was born deformed and died a few hours after birth in 1921 while his wife, Cora Leonard Newall died in a fall down the stairs in 1924. Joe Newall himself hanged himself after losing his fortune in the stock market crash of 1929. And with each tragedy a new wing is added to the house.

Travelling salesman Bill Hogan picks up a broken Chattery Teeth for free and an unwanted hitchhiker at Scooter's Grocery and Roadside Zoo. In attempting to stop the hitchhiker who calls himself Bryan Adams from robbing him, they end up in an accident. Trapped by his seatbelt, Bill is saved by the Chattery Teeth which comes alive, attacks and kills Adams.

In Dedication, Martha Rosewall tells her friend Darcy Sagamore how she set her son on his path to success as a writer. For 1 week while she was pregnant with Peter, Martha found herself hypnotized into acting under the instruction of bruja woman, Mama Delorme. It is due to this that Peter exhibits the characteristics of successful author Peter Jefferies rather than that of his biological father, Johnny.

The Moving Finger has public accountant Howard Mitla believing that he is losing his mind when he suddenly starts seeing a Moving Finger poking out of the drain-hole of his bathroom sink. He believes his suspicion to be confirmed when his wife Violet does not appear to notice anything abnormal in their bathroom. Howard is finally driven to extremes in his effort to get rid of the finger. Called in by the Mitlas' neighbor, Officer O'Bannion arrives at the Mitlas' apartment to investigate what has been going on and finds what appears to be the remains of a person murdered by Howard and strange noises emanating out of the covered toilet bowl.

John Tell can't help noticing the Sneakers in the third floor bathroom's first stall while working at Tabori Studios. Not only does the pair of dirty sneakers never move at all, it is always in the same position with the number of dead bugs increasing each time he sees it. It isn't long before he becomes convinced that there is a dead body in the stall, one which nobody, not even the janitor seems to have discovered. As he keeps his silence, his dread mounts. It is only relief that he feels when he finally realizes that he is seeing a ghost. The ghost reveals to Tell that he was in fact murdered by the man who hired Tell, Paul Jannings. After dealing with the ghost, Tell is then able to quit his job and even gain confidence in his own abilities.

Lost vacationing couple, Mary and Clark Willingham wanders in to Rock and Roll Heaven of Oregon in You Know They Got a Hell of a Band. To their horror they find that the town is peopled mostly by dead rockers who continue to hold a series of endless live concerts every night to their hostage audience.

Maddie Pace is 1 of the residents of the relatively isolated Gennesault Island. It is this isolation which saves its community when the dead suddenly come alive as zombies and start to devour the living across the world. Although Maddie had believed herself to be incapable of self-reliance, she finds unexpected strength in herself to protect her unborn child from her dead husband. Even the prospect of a Home Delivery is not frightening to Maddie.

Every 7 years, the Rainy Season comes to Willow, Maine on 17th June. On that night, there is a deluge of carnivorous toads which disappear with the following day's morning sun. Every time, outsiders arrive just before the downpour. And every time, the residents warn the couple only to be ignored as crackpots. This year, it is John and Elise Graham's turn to be sacrificed for the properity of the town.

A dying grandfather shares his wisdom with his grandson in My Pretty Pony. George Banning speaks of the way time flows at different stages of life to his grandson Clive, calling the years when time follows real time as My Pretty Pony time.

When Katie Weiderman gets a phone call from a mysterious caller who fails to identify herself before the call is ended abruptly, she panics fearing the worse. Absolutely certain that the caller is someone close to her, Katie attempts to ascertain the identity of the caller by calling her close family but the caller remains a mystery. The mystery is resolved 5 years later on her daughter's wedding and husband's death anniversary. Somehow, Katie made a call to her past self in an attempt to warn of her husband's impending heart attack in Sorry, Right Number.

The Ten O'Clock People is the term Brandon Pearson coins for people like him, smokers who escape at regular intervals from their no-smoking zone workplaces to get their daily nicotine dose. Only on this particular morning, he is greeted by a nightmare. He sees a monster in a suit, but is warned by a fellow smoker to pretend that he doesn't notice anything extraordinary. Dudley Rhinemann explains to Pearson that for a few years now, the humans in high places have been slowly taken over by these creatures and its only people like them, who have cut down their smoking to between 5 and 10 cigarettes per day, who are able to see the creatures. Rhinemann then invites Pearson to a meeting with others like them who meet regularly and are about to start a resistance of sorts. Unexpectedly the leader of the group, Robbie Delray betrays them to the monsters and most of the group is killed. Only Pearson and 2 other members, Cameron Stevens and Moira Richardson manage to escape. They later recruit and restart their resistance in another city.

Disappearances and strange occurrences abound in Crouch End, London. This is something the locals have always known though outsiders and newcomers are often skeptical. Vacationing American couple Doris and Leonard Freeman are trapped in Crouch End's other world and only Doris Freeman escapes its monsters. PC Vetter who has spent most of his career in Crouch End knows only too well that what Doris Freeman has described is most probably true but that her husband's disappearance will remain an unsolved case. Meantime, newly transferred PC Farnham dismisses the Doris Freeman's account to his own detriment. He too disappears hours after Doris Freeman leaves.

The Bradbury children return home after their family vacation to discover that something is taking over their home secretly. It is the eldest, 14 year old Trent that discovers that The House on Maple Street is undergoing a transformation which can be used to free them and their mother from the tyranny of their stepfather. With the help of his younger sister Laurie, Trent sets successfully carries out his plan to ensure his younger siblings and mother's safety while trapping his stepfather within the house minutes before the house blasts off into space.

Jerry Tarkanian, The Fifth Quarter sets about avenging his friend Barney's death and stealing loot from a gang of thieves. Barney and 3 others had robbed an armored car. One of the gang, known only as Sarge then got a dying friend of his to bury their loot and draw a map to the location of the buried treasure. The map was split 4 ways between the gang members. Unfortunately greed got the better of them and they killed Barney and stole his portion of the map. A dying Barney manages to reach Jerry and told him what happened. In the end, Jerry carries out what he set out to do.

In The Doctor's Case, Doctor Watson remembers the only case he believes he solved before Sherlock Holmes. Doctor Watson is the first to see through the trick used in the locked room murder mystery of Lord Albert Hull. However, Watson, Holmes and Lestrade all reach an unspoken agreement regarding Lord Hull's family who were driven to commit this crime by the tyrant and collude in keeping their crime a secret. Instead, they blame the murder on a robbery gone wrong and help to dispose of evidence. Watson only tells of this case in his twilight years long after the death of Holmes.

After waking up to a very bad day, Clyde Umney finds out that he and the world he lives in is actually the creation of writer Samuel Landry. Even worse, Landy has written Umney's Last Case as he intends to take over the life Umney has. When Umney awakens next, he finds himself in the real world taking over what was previously Landry's life. Now, Umney's only goal is to learn to write, return to his former life and ensure Landry can't ever take it away again.

Head Down is King's account of the month when Bangor West's Little League team had a near magical winning streak in 1989.
Brooklyn August is a poem written as a tribute on baseball.

The Beggar and the Diamond is adapted from a Hindu parable. In it, God teaches the archangel Uriel on how to be grateful for the things you have.

Book Review of Nightmares and Dreamscapes.
Ho-hum on the most part. There is nothing much to be talked about here in the first half of the book.

The memorable ones are like Suffer the Little Children which was absolutely creepy with the idea of the children of the world being slowly taken over by alien or supernatural beings. Similar to this is the The Ten O'Clock People. The difference lies only in the feelings given by the story. Where Suffer the Little Children was creepy, The Ten O'Clock People has a more heroic tone to it. The House on Maple Street was thoroughly enjoyable as well. The children in this story were either likable or grow to be so at the end of the tale. Another tale to note is The Doctor's Case for its twist on the classic Sherlock Holmes mystery.

Then, there are stories like My Pretty Pony in which I can't figure out what the author was trying to convey. Why is real time My Pretty Pony time ? Beats me.

Links of Interest.
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