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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’

Forever – A Review

Posted on May 13th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

Forever

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Read by:  Anna/Central Library

Forever is the final book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy and chronicles the lives of Sam, who can no longer shift into his wolf form, his girlfriend, Grace, who is now learning to live life part-time as a wolf, Isabel who’s still not entirely thrilled with events as they unfold, and Cole, who has taken this opportunity to search for a cure.

Isabel’s father, Tom Culpepper, has gone to those men high up in the government that he can trust to get a helicopter raid on the wolves. He wants them dead for killing his son and several other teens. He wants the wolves dead. Now. The four teens, Sam, Grace, Isabel, and Cole, struggle to figure out what their future will look like post high school graduation while at the same time feeling lost as to what to do about the helicopter raid that will wipe out their family and friends.  What’s a part-time werewolf to do?

This book was just as good as the others in the trilogy. Even toward the end, the characters stayed in character. Those that did change, did it gradually and over a long period of time, keeping things very realistic for a book about werewolves. The believability of these books was something I really enjoyed. Reading this, I can very well believe that werewolves actually do exist. Of course they do. These are teens who are thrust out into the world on their own, struggling to figure out where they belong, and how to survive in a cruel world. It’s not easy. Yes, these teens do have parents who are also struggling with their own lives, but even so, the teens know they’re on their own. They can’t go to their parents for help because their parents wouldn’t understand. If you’ve read the other two books, you’ll know exactly why Sam doesn’t like trusting outsiders with the information that they’re not entirely human. Help does come in the most unlikely form, and when it does, it doesn’t take over the story. This new person doesn’t have all the magical answers, but helps them the best way possible. Nothing is perfect. And the romance between Sam and Grace, once again, was believable and sweet; a quiet assuredness that they’d found The One . It was great to see that in a young couple. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Isabel and Cole. They don’t really get along. And yet, they also get along extremely well at the same time because they’re a lot alike. It was good to see them in contrast to Grace and Sam. They were a good balance to the relationship spectrum.

In short, I loved this series because I love werewolves, I loved the relationships here, and I loved just how realistic these books were.

Incarceron – A Review

Posted on April 24th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

Incarceron

Incarceron by: Catherine Fisher

Read by: Anna/Copley Teen Room

Incarceron is the book our TBOM group decided to read for March and April. Our final discussion of the book will be today, April 24th at 3pm in the Central Teen Room.

Incarceron is a prison. It is a prison that speaks for itself, feeds its prisoners, takes over the dead bodies, grows new ones, and ensures no one escapes, all from within. There is a Warden, but even he, doesn’t have complete control over the prison. Once, there was a prince, Giles. When he was only a child he was killed to allow his half brother to take the throne. And yet… inside Incarceron there is a boy who bears a birthmark that is a match to the one the prince had. This boy, Finn, is the son of Incarceron. He was born there, created by the prison three years ago. And yet… he remembers a birthday cake, the candles, a pretty girl he was set to marry some day. Are they one and the same? Outside, Claudia, the daughter of the Warden, is set to marry Giles’ horrible half brother and in the eventual death of the queen, take over. But things are not as they seem. Lies and assassination plots abound, and one can’t be sure who to trust any more. It is Finn’s  goal to escape the prison and find out just who he really is. But no one escapes Incarceron. It is Claudia’s goal to free Finn and his friends, to restore him as prince and free the world from the tyrant of a Queen, but no one knows where Incarceron is located or how to get to it.

When I first started reading this book I will admit I was very confused about what was going on inside the prison. It’s not a prison like anyone has ever heard of. There’s a whole world inside the prison, there’s weather, hills, rocks, barren land, whole cities with guards and rock walls surrounding them, forests, roving bands of criminals, mothers, babies, moving vehicles, animals, fake rats who’s duty is to clean up the dead bodies and garbage, you name it, it’s in Incarceron. Yes, weapons are there too. I didn’t understand this at first, and I wish I’d gotten a better handle on it right from the start. And yet, I will also admit that the opening scene is very riveting. It throws you in and scares you half to death. And so I was confused about how the prison worked at first. But the more time I spent there, the more it began to make sense and the more I wanted to know what was going to happen. Right up until the very end. There is a sequel entitled Sapphique, so there are a few things left unanswered. And while I’m anxious to read the next book, I’m also thinking if this one was just a little bit longer, it could have been a standalone novel. But, not having read Sapphique, I could be entirely wrong. We’ll have to see.

While I was expecting a bit of romance to color the plot, it doesn’t, and that was a relief. Too many YA novels rely on the standard romance trope these days that they ruin what could have been a good story. Not every novel needs to have a romance and I’m glad this one allows the actual story to shine. I like Claudia. She’s a tough girl who knows what she wants and is determined to get it. And Finn, who sometimes seems weak, rises to do what’s right when others wouldn’t. The Warden always leaves you with questions as to his true loyalties, making him an intriguing character. Though the Queen and her son, Jasper, do seem a little flat, the other characters quickly make up for it.

Yes, I do recommend this book. My only issue was in the beginning, as I said. Once I understood the world building, I could see just how fantastic and unique it really was, inside the prison and out. Then I was able to really enjoy this page-turner. Read it if you enjoy fantasy, urban fantasy, and classic fantasy.

 

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – A Review

Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

daughter of smoke and bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor

Listened to by Anna/Central Teen Room

Karou is a young art student in Prague with ties to another world where she grew up as a child. Her father figure is  a demon who collects teeth, though for what reason, she does not know. She is caught in the middle of an otherworldly war, and yet, she’s stuck on the outside having no idea a war is going on. But when black hand prints start appearing on portals all over the world she begins to wonder what’s happening, until her curiosity gets the better of her. It’s then she meets beautiful angel, Akiva, and learns of a very violent past she might, or might not, have been a part of in another life.

Instead of picking up the print book or putting the ebook on my Kindle, I opted for the ten disc audio book. I have to say, listening to the audio book was a real adventure and one I will always remember. The first thing I want to say is that the narrator, Khristine Hvam, is super fantastic. She’s able to do so many different voices and accents for all the characters. I didn’t think that was possible. Just when I thought she’d exhausted her collection, a new character would enter the picture and she’d be off with another voice. Not only that, but I really enjoyed the sound of her voice. It’s got a real storytelling quality to it that’s great to relax and listen to for hours on end. Listening to the audio book also meant I could spend more time knitting, or doing other crafty things while a story was read to me. Yay, for multitasking with crafts and books!

The second thing I really enjoyed were the locations used in the book. Most Young Adult novels are set in some boring small town, or some fantasy setting. But this was set in the city of Prague for the most part, with occasional jaunts to other cities and places around the world. And, oh yeah, there was still that fantastical setting too. There was variety in the places and in the characters that we don’t normally see, which was a breath of fresh air.

The third thing I want to talk about is the plot. It’s interesting. There are angels and demons, but you’re not seeing them the way you typically see them in books. Both sides have good and bad parts to them. Individual characters are both good and bad. They’re realistic while still being fantastical. Because of this, you can’t really know what will happen next with the plot. Nothing is predictable. At the same time, I feel I should warn you that the book does jump around in time. A LOT. Be prepared. Especially while listening to an audio book where you won’t get the cues of an extra space between paragraphs or a symbol telling you something’s changing. This changing around doesn’t get too confusing. At least, it didn’t for me. But don’t let that keep you from reading, or listening to, the book.

Overall, I can’t recommend this audio book enough. I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Shadowfell – A Review

Posted on June 26th, 2013 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

shadowfell

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Read by: Anna/Central Library Teen Room

Read for my personal summer reading list (book #1 on the list) and also for our July 3rd TBOM book discussion.

This is the first book in a series about Neryn, a sixteen year old girl with the ability to see the Good Folk, fairies who blend in with nature, tend to be very small, and don’t have typical fairy wings. The king of Alban has decreed that anyone with canny abilities should be killed, or work specifically for him. No one is allowed to speak of the old ways, or practice the ancient arts. Anyone who can sing or weave a basket too well is thought to have abilities they shouldn’t. This is not a time of peace, but of unrest, a time when being overheard speaking the wrong words could cause death, or worse, a mind-scrapping. Enter Neryn, a young girl who’s grandmother told her secret tales of the Good Folk, who was ready to stand up for what she believed in, and eventually died for those beliefs. Neryn is on a long journey with Flint, a companion she isn’t sure she can trust with her deep secrets. It turns out, however, that Flint has secrets of his own and they might be closely related to hers. Will she reach Shadowfell, a destination marked for safety to those with canny abilities? Or will Flint turn her over to the king for his use?

This book was well written, seemingly above the traditional YA fantasy novels that have been written lately. I fell into a world that was at once fantastical, and yet very believable. I loved the Good Folk, who are like fairies and yet not like any that have been written about recently. These are magic folk of old stories. They blend into nature and only come out if you can see them, only help you if you are kind hearted and share whatever you can with them. Neryn learned to share from her grandmother, learned that it doesn’t matter how much you have, you always have something you can share. Often she is hungry and offers a little of her food to the Good Folk in return for a little of their help. She is able to call mythical creatures to her aid, creatures not found in typical YA novels. She is strong, and kind. She isn’t what I would call “girly” and she isn’t not “girly” either, something else I liked. The cover of the book doesn’t have the typical girl in a beautiful gown (which usually never appears in the actual book!) and that made the book that much more approachable. This was a good read over all, but there were a few issues I had with it, minor though they might be. Trust is a hard won issue throughout the book. No one is trustworthy in Alban. Everyone is looking over their backs. That’s understandable, but the trust between Neryn and Flint goes back and forth so many times, it does get a little irritating, along with the repeated traveling, that never seems to end. As for Flint himself, it is stated somewhere in the book that he’s young, perhaps early twenties at the most. But his actions, and the way he speaks, puts him at a much older age. I kept picturing Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), and thus, had a little trouble picturing the budding romance between the two. I actually would prefer him to be a man of Aragorn’s age, minus the romance. I’ll admit, I’m getting tired of there having to be a romance in every YA book out there. Otherwise, I loved this book, and will likely give the second book a try when I get a chance.

For those who are interested, our TBOM book discussion will be at 3pm on July 3rd. Everyone is welcome and snack food will be provided!

 

My Summer Reading List for 2012

Posted on May 29th, 2012 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

I know most of you reading this will have to read at least one or two books over the summer for school, right? I might not be going back to school next fall, and teachers might not be handing me a list of books I have to read this summer, but a lot of the books on your list are great books. And so, I’ve decided to join you in reading books/authors from the Boston Public Schools list for 2012. Some of the books on this year’s list are books I’ve already read, by authors I love, so instead of rereading the same books, I’ve chosen related books that I’ve been meaning to read for awhile but haven’t gotten around to.

As soon as I’ve finished reading a book, I’ll post a review of it here in the blog so you can check out my progress and see what I thought of each book.

 What am I reading this summer? Here’s my Summer Reading List:

 FICTION

 The following are on, or are related to, books on the BPS Summer Reading List for Grades 9-12.

 -Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clark (Sci-Fi/Fantasy list)

The Overlords came to Earth and brought peace and prosperity with them… but then they began to take the children away from their heritage in the first step to eliminate the human race!

 This is a classic science-fiction novel that I’ve been told all sci-fi writers need to read. Thus, it makes sense that even those who don’t write sci-fi, but love to read it, should read this book too. I’ve never read anything by this author before, but occasionally I like to dabble in writing sci-fi stories, so I’d like to check it out, and hopefully improve my writing by enjoying a good book.

 

 -Doomwyte by Brian Jacques (Sci-Fi/Fantasy list)

A young mouse, Bisky, and his friends seek a fabled Redwall treasure: the jeweled eyes of the Great Doomwyte Idol, which leads them to the realm of the fearsome Korvus Skurr, the black-feathered raven…

 This is book 20 in the classic fantasy series Redwall. Brian Jacques is my favorite children’s/YA author, and the prequel to this series,  Mossflower, is the book on the official Summer Reading list. It is also my favorite, and most read, book in the entire Redwall series. As I have yet to read Doomwyte, I’ve chosen it for my summer list. When reading this series, there are a total of 22 books, and it does not matter in what order you read them!

 

 

 -Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey (Sci-Fi/Fantasy list)

Chosen by the Companion Rolan, a mystical horse-like being with powers beyond imagining, Talia, once a runaway, has now become a trainee Herald, destined to become one of the Queen’s own elite guard. For Talia has certain awakening talents of the mind that only a Companion like Rolan can truly sense. But a conspiracy is brewing in Valdemar against the Queen by unknown forces. Talia must protect her and the heir, before danger can strike!

 The official reading list includes Magic’s Pawn, the first book in The Last Herald Mage trilogy by the same author, which I read and loved immensely.  Arrows of the Queen is the first book in her trilogy The Heralds of Valdemar, and while only a few of the characters are the same, it is set in the same kingdom of Valemar as The Last Herald Mage trilogy. I’ve been curious to see if it’s as good as the other, which is why I’ve chosen this book.  

 

 

 -Odd Hours by Dean Koontz (Mystery/Suspense list)

Odd Thomas is a young man with a faithful companion in his dog named Boo. Though they are anything but ordinary. Odd can see the spirits of dead people who are reluctant to move on from this world. And Boo is one such spirit. In the past he has been haunted by nightmares that have come true. In the small California town where he’s currently living, he’s been having the same repeat nightmare. Will it lead to someone’s death? Or will Odd be able to save another’s life?

 The Mystery/Suspense list includes Odd Thomas, the first book in the Odd series about a 19-year-old boy who can see dead people. Odd Hours is the fourth book which I have yet to read, thus, it is one of my reading choices this summer.

 

 NON-FICTION

 Three of the non-fiction titles I’ve chosen were on a Summer Reading List in 2011 when they caught my eye. Since then, I’ve been looking for an excuse to dive into them, even though they are no longer required reading for school. Those books are:

 

-A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo

A memoir of the Vietnam War.

 

-Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden

A minute-by-minute account of the first sustained firefight involving American troops since the Vietnam War in 1993.

 -Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

This is a true tale of survival, adventure, and the most incredible rescue mission of World War II.

 

A Little Big Life by Dean Koontz

This was a last-minute addition to the list in place of The Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding, which is not in print in the states yet. This book is a “Memoir of a Joyful Dog” and is written by the author of one of the fiction books I’m also reading, so I thought it would be fitting to read this joyful little tome.

 

So, in total, I have chosen to read 8 titles this summer between June 1st and August 31st. I’m not sure how far I’ll get, or in what order I’ll be reading them, but check back here for any reviews I post to see where I am in this list and what I have left to go.