April 5, 2016

Tithe by Holly Black

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:11 am by suebe2

Tithe
by Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry Book

Sixteen year-old Kay is used to living a semi-nomadic life.  After all, Mom is a musician and when things with a band, or a boyfriend, go South, it can mean hitting the road.  Still, no boyfriend has ever pulled a knife on her Mom before but that’s what happens after the gig.  The problem is that this time Kay and her mother have nowhere to go.  They end up leaving New York City for New Jersey to stay with Kay’s grandmother.

They lived her when Kay was a child and she’s eager to return to the shore and the ocean and the wind and the trees.  It is all just too perfect except that it no longer fits.

Her bedroom is pink and frilly and cute.  In fact, it is perfect for the 8 year-old girl she was but much less so for the teen she is.  Her best friend Janet begs her not to act to weird and Kay tries.  She really and truly does.  But sometimes when she loses herself in her thoughts things happen — like the evening she bewitches a defunct merry-go-round horse to come to life and enchants Janet’s boy friend who suddenly wants her and no one else.

At first Kay blames the attraction on her exotic looks — blonde and Asian.  But then she meets Roiben, a beautiful warrior shot by an arrow. It is clear he isn’t human but can he truly be an elf like he claims?  And that’s when Kay’s world begins to unravel and she finds herself underground in the beautiful, wicked world of the faery court.  Slowly Kay unravels who, and what, she really is. The reality that she uncovers reveals a plot long in the making, a plot designed to bring a kingdom tumbling down.

If I’m not mistaken, this is one of Black’s earlier novels.  In it, readers will find a delicious blend and fantasy and reality, dark and decadent.  The voices of her teen characters are unflinchingly real even when an adult reader wishes they would chill . . . just a little.  Hint:  Beware listening to this as an audiobook without earphones, especially the first 1/3 of the book.  Yes, it was just my husband who overheard but still.

In this “Modern Faerie Tale,” Black blends fantasy and mystery and romance for an enticing read for your teen fantasy fan.

–SueBE

 

July 23, 2015

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy: Book One) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:06 am by suebe2

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy: Book One)
by Sarah Rees Brennan
Random House

Kami Glass has learned a few lessons in her 17 years.  Prominent among them?  When you can talk to a boy named Jared in your head, don’t do it for too long and don’t let anyone else know.  If you do, they’ll think you’re crazy.

But Kami can talk to Jared.  He’s been with her as long as she can remember and she’s been there for him.  Tough times are a bit easier when you have a friend.

Then Jared shows up at Sorry-in-the-Vale, the town where Kami lives.  Have a friend talk to you in your head is strange enough.  Having him standing in front of you, tall, blond and oh-so handsome is another. It’s clear from the start that Jared is a bit of a bad boy, but Kami already knew that.  What she doesn’t understand is why he keeps shying away from her.

Jared and his family have been gone for seventeen years.  Kami doesn’t know that the deal is with the Lynburn’s but she knows it can’t be all good.  Even her mother is suspicious of them and immediately forbids Kami from seeing Jared.

Then the killings start.  Could it be Jared?  That’s what her mother seems to think.  Kami can’t stand that thought but she doesn’t want it to be someone she grew up with either.

That’s it on the plot.  I don’t want to give too much away.

Don’t be fooled by the cover.  While I love the use of silhouettes and shadow, something about this felt one very “old-time” to  me.  Not old as in Victorian but quite possibly 1950s little girl.  The main character in this book is a full-fledged contemporary teen.

As always Brennan has done an amazing job in weaving together a world that is both contemporary and recognizable, but also fantasy.  Her characters are wonderfully complex with a mixture of good and bad in each.  Yes, you’ll have to look a bit harder to find the good in some of the antagonists but it is there and includes a frighteningly rigid code of honor.  Break this code and, even if you are one of them, you’ve gone too far.

This book will probably appeal a bit moe to girls than to boys because of the romance element but it is not a girly book.  As always, Brennan deals with some tough themes including loyalty, honor and honesty.  Because of the darker elements, this book might not be a good choice for a sensitive tween.  But for a reader who is ready to explore the dark side of humanity in a safe venue, this book is a must.

–SueBE

February 27, 2015

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:13 am by suebe2

Graceling
by Kristin Cashore
Harcourt

I’m not sure how I missed this one when it came out but in a way that’s good news.  If you love this book as much as I do, you’re going to want to read more and there are two companion books, Fire and Bitterblue, already available.

Katsa is a girl with a past.  At sixteen, she’s feared across the Seven Kingdoms because she is graced.  The graced are easy to recognize since they all have eyes of two colors.  Katsa has one blue eye and one green.  What isn’t obvious at a glance is the nature of a person’s grace.  That said, everyone knows what the Lady Assassin can do.  Since she was 8 years-old, she’s been able to kill a man with a single blow.

Katsa’s a girl with a past.  What she isn’t sure about is her future. She tired of being the heavy for her uncle the king.  It would be one thing if the people she went after for her were truly bad, but most often they are simply greedy or refuse to give him something he wants.

The Council may be her way out.  Or at least her way to sanity.  She and a group of friends have been using the king’s own spies to uncover injustice and set things right.  They have to work quietly but Katsa likes to believe she is making a difference.

Then on a nighttime mission she meets a young man.  Like her, his eyes are two colors — one silver, one gold.  But the strange thing is that he doesn’t fear her.  Almost everyone fears her and she isn’t sure what to make of this especially since he stands between her and the exit.  Only later does she discover that he is a prince, that his people don’t fear the graced, and that their mission is one and the same.

I absolutely refuse to tell you anything more about the plot because to do so would mean giving something away and Cashore does a marvelous job of revealing information bit by bit.  That said, you won’t feel cheated because the characters are also in the dark, living in a world of secrets and misunderstanding.  Suffice it to say that throughout the course of the book, Katsa learns about herself including the nature of her long-misunderstood grace.

If you have a young reader on your hands who loves fantasy, consider this book.  It is young adult and deals with mature themes.  There is violence, but the worst of it occurs off scene and it isn’t treated lightly.  There is also a very strong romantic element to the plot and there is on-scene sex, subtley and sensitively written.

This novel is complex and layered.  The characters are wonderfully drawn and just as complex as the plot.  Add this to your fantasy reading list today.

–SueBE

November 19, 2013

Black Heart by Holly Black

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:08 am by suebe2

Black Heart
by Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry

In a world much like our own, magic is illegal.  In our world, that wouldn’t be a huge problem but Cassel was born with magic.  Imagine having amazing abilities and not being able to use them unless, of course, you are willing to be a criminal.  To some people, it might seem like that Cassel was born into a criminal family, small time but a criminal family nonetheless.

One brother, now deceased, was a curse worker.  Another works memories.  Mom can work someone’s emotions.  Cassel?  Cassel is the rarest of them all.  He can transform people, changing faces or changing them completely.  It isn’t surprising then that big criminal families want him for their own and so does the government.

What Cassel wants is getting complicated too.  When he was a child, back before he knew he could transform, he wanted to have magic just like everyone else he knew.  Now that he has it, he wishes that he could forget the things that he’s done with it.  More than anything, he just wants to be a good person, a person his friends can trust.

But how can anyone trust you when you don’t trust yourself?  Cassel has signed a deal with the feds and that should make things easier.  But when your family is criminal, a deal with the feds means death so he has to hide what he is doing.  And then there are the things that they ask him to do.  Transforming a person into a living thing isn’t the same as murder but when they ask him to transform a state governor, Cassel starts to ask himself questions — why have them come to someone with no experience, someone they clearly don’t trust?  And why should he trust them?

This is an amazing conclusion to the Curse Worker trilogy. It isn’t often that the books get better later in the trilogy but that is what Black has pulled off. Themes of goodness and evil, and personal responsibility play out in an amazing way.

And, the reality is, that the louder Cassel shouts that he is bad, the more convinced the reader is that deep down he is a good person, a person who cares deeply about even those who have hurt him.   That said, he has a truly wicked sense of humor that will appeal to male readers.

–SueBE

May 16, 2013

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:26 am by suebe2

The Crown of Embers
by Rae Carson
AR 5.0

Elisa is a hero.  The young widowed queen led her people to victory vs an army of sorcerers.  Even as fires still smolder in damaged parts of the capital city, her people welcome her parade with cheers and song until  a sorcerer appears and ignites himself amid a crowd.  Terrified citizens flee to the palace only to find themselves locked out.

The Queen and her guards have also been locked out.  Fortunately, there is a secret way into the palace.

Where there is one secret there are bound to be many as Elisa discovers after an assassin attacks her where no one else should have been.  Then she discovers a failed sorcerer living in a hidden village.  And a dinner guest it poisoned at her own table.

Who can she trust?  There is Ximena, the nurse who raised her; Mara the maid who was one of the rebels who helped her win the war; and Hector, the captain of her guard.   There are also the people she shouldn’t trust yet finds herself relying on more and more — Storm, the failed sorcerer; Belen a young rebel who once betrayed her because he thought he did the will of God; and Tristan, the suitor who lied to her to gain her trust.  Indecision and inaction take their toll as Elisa struggles to maintain authority, yet many still believe in her as she learns when Hector, Mara and Ximena commission a special crown, The Crown of Embers, suitable for her and no one else.

When Elisa takes off on a cross country journey, she surprised many with her abilities.  Only the rebels she led against the sorcerers know of her skills and comfort in desert survival.  If only she could being the same determination to her rule within the city.

I can’t say much more about the plot without giving away far too much.  As before, with The Girl of Fire and ThornsCarson has created a deliciously complicated story.  There is romance in abundance as Elisa’s attraction to Hector grows even as she is forced to search out a husband.  

The reading level may be easily within the later elementary school range but the story is young adult as Elisa considers what about herself a man might find appealing as well as her hopes for love and happiness, friendship and companions in general.

Can she be true to herself, to her duty as the bearer of a Godstone and those she would gladly give her life to save?  You’ll have to read the book to see how it all works out.

–SueBE

 

 

%d bloggers like this: