March 30, 2010
by Janice Hardy
Imagine a world where healing takes place by pulling the pain from the afflicted person’s body while simultaneously healing the injury or illness. Unfortunately, the pain then shifts to the body of the healer until they can transfer it to a special kind of stone.
That’s how it is supposed to work and that’s how things work for Nya’s sister who is training to be a healer. But Nya cannot shift the power from herself to the stone. The only way she can get rid of it is to do the unthinkable — to shift it into another person. In her war torn land, this could easily mean being used as a weapon and Nya manages to hide her ability until the night the starving girl is caught stealing an egg. Her slip brings her to the attention of a pain merchant — those who take pain only to plant it into a weapon.
When a terrible accident happens, the pain merchant again demand’s Nya’s services even as she becomes aware of something horrible. Apprentice healers are not being allowed to dump their pain. What is going on and why?
Nya leads a band of unlikely allies to the rescue and discovers the horrible implications of her own power as well as the power held by the leaders who control her city.
This middle grade fantasy is the first in The Healing Wars Trilogy. Although boys would enjoy the physical nature of this adventure it is likely to have a greater appeal to girls. Nya is feisty and determined and a great role model for girls who may be wondering if they can do all that is expected of them. A good choice for reluctant readers because the story is complicated enough to interest them, with some mature implications, but not so difficult in reading level that it will lose them. This would also be a good book for advanced readers who need a faceted story to hold their interest.
March 19, 2010
by Sarah Rees Brennan
“The pipe under the sink was leaking again. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that Nick kept his favorite sword under the sink.”
Author Sarah Rees Brennan loses no time in plunging readers into the world of Nick and his older brother, Alan. From their rundown home to the demon attack while Alan is fixing dinner, it is “been there, done that” for the brothers who have been on the run from demons and the magicians who summon them since their father died.
Things go from bad to worse when two kids from school show up in the middle of the attack. How do you explain a dead guy in the middle of the kitchen and a swirl of attacking ravens? Not to mention Mum — black-haired, wild-eyed and terrified of her youngest son who has no clue why his mother hates him.
But clues start to come together as Nick finds a hidden photo and figures out that his brother is lying to him. Before Nick can unravel the lie, he has to find a way to save his brother’s life after Alan is marked by a demon.
Tween boy readers will love Nick and his sword. Slice first. Think later. And maybe work in a worry or two about why you aren’t as emotional as those around you.
Tween girls will love Nick and his sword — what’s not to love about a good-looking bad boy who, in spite of everything, fights to save Alan and, because they matter to him, the two kids from school.
Action abounds but there is plenty to think about too as readers question the age-old battle of good vs evil, what it is to be human, and just what it means to have a soul.
A well-written addition to the genres of fantasy and the paranormal. This book stands a good chance of holding even a reluctant reader from beginning to end.
This is the first in a trilogy and I am looking forward to book #2, The Demon’s Covenant.
March 10, 2010
by Carrie Jones
Zara, sent to live with her grandmother following her father’s death, feels betrayed. How could he just die? How could her mother just dump her?
Slowly, Zara realizes why her mother made this difficult choice and the teen starts to live again — actually paying attention to the world around her and noticing some disturbing things. First of all, who is the shadowy man she keeps seeing? Second, what has happened to the two boys who disappeared?
Zara quickly makes friends and one of them is as into helping people as she is. Nick is tall and handsome and Zara wants to get to know him better.
Zara gets to know him when she pulls an arrow out of his shoulder although she doesn’t initially realize that the huge dog (she’s never seen a wolf) is actually Nick. And the creature that shot him is a pixie — not a cute pixie but more like a killer faerie.
Reviewers have compared Need to Twilight. To me, Zara seems much more capable than Bella. Sure, Nick saves her a time or 20 but she saves him too. And the plan that rids them all of pixie problems is Zara’s.
Like Twilight, this is a paranormal romance although the paranormal/fantasy elements take off slowly enough that you might initially think you are reading a straight up contemporary novel albeit a dark one.
This would be an excellent choice for a teen or tween who is suffering from Bella and Edward withdrawal. Although there is some violence, the romance is mostly of the yearning variety (no sex).
I will definitely be checking out the next book — Captivate.
March 3, 2010
by Anna Dean
Miss Dido Kent is many things — an observer of human kind, a loving maiden aunt, a sharp mind, and a product of her time. The last being the thing I loved/hated the most about this particular character, but more on that later.
Dido has been called to Bellfield Hall by her niece, Catherine. It seems that immediately after the ball announcing Catherine’s engagement to Richard Montague, the young man tells her to break their engagement and then he leaves for parts unknown. No one in his family seems particularly disturbed by his disappearance and Dido must work within the confines of polite Regency Society (date 1805) to find out what has happened and if it has any connection to the woman found dead in the garden.
Dido catches clues that the men miss simply because she is a woman and familiar with the world of a proper woman of her day and age. That said, she misses just as much for exactly the same reason — I reality both she and I found incredibly frustrating. Imagine being a detective who can be called away from the scene of the crime simply because your brother wants you to come sit with his wife. But I also have to applaud the author for making the character true to her time. How many of us have put aside a piece of historic fiction when a character is simply to liberated or some such for his or her time?
Set in the same era as the writing of Jane Austen, any young reader who already adores Austen should pick this book up. Author Anna Dean does an excellent job working in period details, weaving them into an intricate plot peopled by characters of great depth and complexity.
This isn’t a quick read but it is absorbing and an astute reader may catch on to a few realities concerning the characters that Dido reports on but doesn’t entirely comprehend.
An excellent choice for an advanced reader who loves mysteries but doesn’t want the graphic content found in many adult mysteries.