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Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Delcroix Academy : The Candidates – Inara Scott

Posted by Laura on November 23, 2010

Danica Lewis is a little bit strange.   When she thinks someone is being threatened,  she can make things happen.  And sometimes these things are violent.  Because of this, she tries to stay away from people and not get noticed.   When people do notice her and start talking to her she is really good at turning the tables and getting them to talk about themselves.

So when representatives of a prestigious boarding school show up at her grandmother’s door offering Danica a full scholarship, she is more than a bit surprised.  Danica is not a particularly good student.  She is not involved in any clubs, but she does play soccer.  Not that she is a phenom, or anything.  But the people from the school insist that they want her.

Danica and her grandmother talk it over and decide to try it out for a few months.  Danica worries about keeping up with the course load, of keeping her distance from people so that she doesn’t make anything happen, of how her grandmother is getting on at home with no one to take care of her during the week.  And, she worries about why she was chosen for the Academy.

Delcroix Academy: The Candidates by Inara Scott has a slow build to the reason why Danica was chosen.  But in the meantime, the story of life at the school and the relationships that Danica makes lay the ground work for the continuation of the series.  And, book 2 is in the works.


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Girl in the arena – Lise Haines

Posted by Laura on March 4, 2010

So, soccer (or football as it is known elsewhere) is the biggest sport in our world.  Imagine if Neo-Gladiator Sport was the biggest.  And I mean the fight-to-the-death, dress-like-an-ancient-Roman, sometimes-have-to-battle-animals gladiator.

That is the case in Lise Haines’s book Girl in the arena.  Lyn is the daughter of seven gladiators.  Meaning, that her mother, Allison, has been married seven times, each time to a gladiator.  And so far, six of them have died in the arena.

Lyn’s family is famous.  Her mother, for being a fantastic Glad-Wife, Lyn for being the daughter of seven gladiators, and the seventh husband/father, Tommy, for being at the top of the sport.  Then there is Lyn’s brother, Thad.  He is an eight year old oracle.  One of his newest statements is –I’m the most famous person you’ll ever meet.

Tommy is close to fulfilling his contract with Caesar’s Inc., but standing between him and the end is Uber.  And, alas for the outcome of this fight.  It does not end the way Lyn’s family would like.

By-laws, paparazzi, a forced marriage – there’s lots of stuff going on in this version of Boston.  Try to ignore the cover, it is misleading, or at least for a long time misleading.  And try not to let the lack of quotation marks bother you.  Learn to love the dash.  (I have not learned to love the dash, I just hope that you are able to do so.)

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Fire – Kristin Cashore

Posted by Laura on November 23, 2009

There is trouble in the Dells. The last king had been controlled by the human monster, Cansrel, and between the two of them they made a mess of the kingdom. Now there are factions who want to take the kingdom away from young King Nash and war is on the horizon.

Monsters are terribly beautiful.  They are shaped like any other animal of their species, but they come in vibrant colors.  Monsters stun their prey with their beauty, and then take over their minds, making the prey that much easier to catch.

Fire, Cansrel’s daughter,  is the last human monster.  She is beautiful beyond words with hair the color of fire.  Her appearance instills great passion in all who see her.  Non human monsters want nothing more than to consume her and humans either love her or hate her.

King Nash sends for Fire so that she might interrogate strangers, assassins and supposed supporters to find out who the enemy is, what they are planning, and how to keep the country from falling apart.  But, Fire is not like her father.  She hated what Cansrel did with his power and she is afraid that if she uses her power, she will become like him.

But, first she has to get to King City.  Imagine how hard that is when there are monster raptors dropping upon her from above, because they really, really want to eat her.  Then there are the humans in the army surrounding her who really, really love her, or really, really hate her.  (Imagine the love to be like that seen at a rock concert.  Uncontrolled hysteria.  Not everyone is effected that way, but enough are to become a problem.)  It is a good thing that she has a guard of 20 people who know how to control their own minds.

Fire by Kristin Cashore is a companion novel to Graceling (a 2009 Teens’ Top Ten winner). You can read either one first.  But, I expect that if you read one, you will really, really want to read the other.

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Eon: Dragoneye reborn – Alison Goodman

Posted by Laura on August 6, 2009

Eon is twelve-years-old and is in training to become a Dragoneye.  Every New Year, twelve twelve-year-old boys, who have the rare ability to see the dragon of their birth year, vie to become a Dragoneye to the ascending dragon.  This year the ascending Dragon is the Rat Dragon, the Keeper of Ambition.

Eon’s master is poor and the future of his household rests on Eon’s success at being selected as the next Dragoneye.  The problem is that Eon is not twelve-years-old.  He is sixteen-years-old.  And he is not a he, but a she.  Girls are not allowed to become Dragoneyes because they are physically weak and lack the “depth of character needed to commune with an energy dragon (p.2).”

Eona, as her name truly is, is certain that she will be killed if ever her secret is discovered.  But, she can see all the dragons, not just the dragon of her birth year.  Her abilities are greater than even her master believes.

Eon: Dragoneye reborn by Alison Goodman is filled with political intrigue.  The Emperor is dying and his brother is trying to take over.  Which means that that Emperor’s son will have to be disposed of.  There are people in the court who are trying to prevent the uprising, for the good of the empire and for the good of other nations.

FYI ~ This book is set in a society where it is fairly common to have eunuchs as servants – at least on the Emperor’s staff.  There is also one woman who was born in a man’s body.  If either of these types of character bother you, don’t read the book.  If these types of characters don’t bother you, you are in for an exciting tale that will be concluded in a future book – which I won’t give you the title of, because it might ruin the first book a bit.

Fair enough?

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Bloodhound – Tamora Pierce

Posted by Laura on May 18, 2009

Tamora Pierce’s second book about Beka Cooper, Bloodhound, is as adventurous as the first.

Beka has completed her Puppy training and is now a first year Dog (a full-fleged member of the realm’s police force, actually called the Provost’s Guard).  Alas, she is unlucky in her partner assignments.  Each time a partnership fails, she is sent back to work with Tunstall and Goodwin, her training Dogs (see book 1, Terrier, for Beka’s Puppy training).

Shortly after Beka is returned to her old partners for the fourth time, they hear fellow Dogs blowing the General Alarm on their whistles.  She, Goodwin and Tunstall run to the Nightmarket where a riot is breaking out due to the rise in prices of day old bread.  Why is the price rising?  Much of the grain crop has developed rot, and there are many more counterfeit coins in circulation then usual.  What can business do but raise their prices to cover the costs of their losses?  It is too bad that the bad coin could cause the realm to fall.

Beka still has her informants in the ghosts that ride the pigeons (oh, Slapper!) and she can hear whatever snatches of conversation the Spinners have intercepted.  From that information, and from what others have sniffed out, Beka and Goodwin are sent to find out where the bad money is coming from.

There are a number of helpful lists in the back of the book to help with the large cast of characters and glossary to help with the unusual and/or old fashioned terms.  Beka also picks up a new companion, a scent hound named Achoo, and we are given a list of her commands.

Expect good Dogs and bad Dogs, good Rogues and bad Rogues, good coin and bad coin, and all in all a good tail.  Er, tale.

“Achoo, mencari.”   (“Achoo, seek.”)

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Graceling – Kristin Cashore

Posted by Laura on January 29, 2009

Some people born in Katsa’s world are Graced, which means that they have one extreme skill.  Some are Graced with swimming, running or tabulating.  Katsa is Graced with killing, and this makes her a useful weapon for her king.

The Graced have eyes of two different colors; Katsa’s are blue and green. This marking makes the Graced near impossible to hide, and Katsa’s deeds are well known and far told.

We meet Katsa when she is tired of being the king’s dog, of being ordered about and used as a threat against innocent people.  She, with the help of others, created the Council, a secret organization of spies and sympathizers from across the Seven Kingdoms that worked in secret to thwart the actions of bad rulers against those they should have been protecting.

Why would an elderly prince of a peaceful land be kidnapped and held in a dungeon of another kingdom?  As far as Katsa is concerned, there can be no good reason for it, and so he must be freed.  Welcome to page 1.  Expect hand to hand combat and arrow play.  Knives, swords, whatever.  Katsa can use them all.  But, things are not always as  first they appear to be.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is fantastic. According to her blog a prequel, called Fire, will be published in October 2009, and she is at work on a third in the series.  I am excited.

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Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow – Jessica Day George

Posted by Laura on May 23, 2008

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is a retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon. A poor family had a ninth child and the mother refused to name her. So, they called her the Pika (girl). A nameless child may fall prey to trolls, thus the Pika had to be careful.

The Pika loved her oldest brother who had gone away for a time and came back changed. When she has the opportunity to help him and her poor family, she jumps at the chance. She ends up at an ice castle living with an isbjorn (ice bear – polar bear) and a gargoyle, a faun and a pixie, among others, as servants. Fortunately, the Pika also has her wolf, Rollo. She has all she can eat and lots of books to read, but she has little company and she misses her family.

I enjoyed reading this book, but I wish I had thought to look for the glossary when I first started reading the book. I would then have been pronouncing the names correctly. So, learn from my mistake, and check out the back – but only for the glossary, don’t ruin the ending for yourself. This book has been nominated for the Teens Top Teen list of books for 2008. And now I know why.

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The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

Posted by Laura on April 24, 2008

The American Library Association gives the Alex Award to ten books published for adults that have special appeal for young adults ages 12 to 18. I unknowingly read this 2008 winner a few months ago and blogged about it on our “For your Consideration @ Duluth” blog.

Meet Kvothe, a seemingly benign tavern owner who says it will take him three days to tell the story of his life properly. The tale rapidly moves from his time being trained in magic on the road with his family’s group of traveling players, to his three rough years living on the streets of Tarbean. Once he drags himself out of despair, he needs both his vast intelligence and his street smarts to quickly move up the ranks in the magical University so he can have full access to the Archives. Kvothe is still a teenager in the University when the book ends, but the author has dropped tantalizing nuggets as to what will come.

There is magic and bullies, music and plays, and danger is coming. The Name of the Wind: Kingkiller chronicle, day 1 by Patrick Rothfuss is a thick book at 661 pages, so if you want to really get into a novel, pick up this one. I am waiting for day 2.

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Beastly – Alex Flinn

Posted by Laura on March 31, 2008

 Are you interested in a fun, quick read?

Beastly is a modern telling of “Beauty and the Beast.” This story is told from the point of view of the beast, Kyle Kingsbury, the beautiful son of a egotistical television news reporter.  Kyle lives in New York City and goes to a private school where he easily is voted king of the dance.  He tricks a girl into thinking she was going to the dance with him so that he can humiliate her in front of everyone.

This act of cruelty is the final straw, and his appearance is turned into that of the beast (his inside was that way already).  But, because of one small act of kindness, he is given two years to find true love and break the spell.  Can a beast find true love?

Maybe, maybe not.  He does find a on-line support group for people who are considering or who have had “Unexpected Changes”.  Other characters from fairy tales are also members of the chat group.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Posted by Laura on March 13, 2008

I just heard that the film version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released in two parts.  The first half will be released in November of 2010, and the final half in May 2011.

I wonder where the plot break will be…

Any thoughts?

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