Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld

Title: The Secret Hour (Book #1 of the Midnighters Series)
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Suspense regarding monsters that only come out at midnight
Premise: "Upon moving to Bixby, Oklahoma, fifteen-year-old Jessica Day learns that she is one of a group of people who have special abilities that help them fight ancient creatures living in an hour hidden at midnight; creatures that seem determined to destroy Jess." (King County Library System)
Opinions: This is an intriguing premise. What would I do with an extra hour to the day that hardly anyone else is aware of? Probably lots of things. Then you throw in the idea of creatures and monsters that only live during that time and consider you as a possible meal. Thanks, but I think I will stick to my normal twenty four hours. Though I really like Jessica, my favorite character happens to be Jonathan, mostly because of his special abilities that come out in the true midnight hour. Scott Westerfeld does a wonderful job creating realistic teenagers and their reactions to situations, but that left me a little worried. I hope that those teenagers who read this book don't get any ideas of things they might try to do without getting in trouble (probably a good thing there isn't really a 25 hour to the day with no supervision). Personally, I think if you liked the Twilight Series you might enjoy this very much (though its not about vampires).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

For reviews of the Percy Jackson series feel free to go back to our posts from May 2009.

Title: The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus Series Book One)
Author: Rick Riordan
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Mild Peril
Premise: "Jason, Piper, and Leo, three students from a school for "bad kids," find themselves at Camp Half-Blood, where they learn that they are demigods and begin a quest to free Hera, who has been imprisoned by Mother Earth herself." (PG Library System)
Opinions: Personally, I think this was much better than the Percy Jackson series (though you frequently hear about him in this book). I love that we pick up with the lives of the members of Camp Half Blood several months after the end of the previous series. I loved getting to know three new characters. Mr. Riordan does a brilliant job bringing the characters to life through their written voice. My two all time favorite characters are Coach Hedge and Leo. Mr. Riordan did a brilliant job letting the reader into each point of view character's heads and seeing their individual personalities. He is also brilliant in the way he throws in twists and turns that are unexpected, but made me think "That is freakin' awesome!" when I figured it out. I love seeing the other side of the Gods and finding a world of even greater peril. Mr. Riordan does a brilliant job bringing history and mythology to life in a unique way that attracts kids and adults alike. I cannot wait until next year when book two is released.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cutting Edge by Jeffrey S. Savage

(Sorry no picture available)

Title: Cutting Edge
Author: Jeffrey S. Savage
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: LDS Adult Mystery
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "When Travis Edwards discovers someone has been stealing sensitive files off of his computer and the person he confides in mysteriously disappears, he must use all the means at his disposal to prove his innocence and keep his family alive." (PG Library System)
Opinions: My two favorite genres are fantasy and mystery and this book has shot up towards the top of my all-time favorite mysteries. Having worked in the information technology industry for several years I was intrigued to read a story that takes place in an atmosphere that felt very familiar to me. I almost felt like I was back working with my old team, trying to meet deadlines. Then you through a mystery on top of all that stress. LOVE IT!!!! I loved the believability of the story and most definitely the characterizations. I love the strength that Travis finds from his wife and her family. I love the twists and turns that kept me wondering if my suspicions were right (I am pleased to say that not all of them were). If you love mystery then you should thoroughly enjoy this book.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

Title: The Two Princesses of Bamarre
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Junior Fantasy
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "With her adventurous sister, Meryl, suffering from the the Grey death meek and timid Princess Addie sets out to find a cure." (King County Library System)
Opinions: This is a intriguing book about the underlying character of people. Meryl has always been the sister in her family who talks and dreams of adventures and who constantly trains to eventually go on those adventures. Addie, however, is scared of everything and lives comfortably in her sister's shadow. However, when a dire situation makes the two sisters switch roles and Addie has to go fight untold dangers in order to save Meryl's life the two sisters learn the true selves that lie hidden within. I really enjoyed seeing Addie overcome her fears and learn what she is truly capable of, though there were times that her timidity drove me a little nuts. I was glad to see how she blossomed as she had to battle ogres, griffins, dragons and much, much more. Overall I found this an enjoyable, easy read.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

Title: O Pioneers!
Author: Willa Cather
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Fiction
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "When Alexandra Bergson's father dies she is left with the responsibility of raising her younger brothers on their father's unsuccessful farm. Alexandra is deeply involved with life as she meets the demands of laboring on the prairie farm, and wrestling with her conflicting emotions. The unyielding land of the Nebraska Divide would be challenge enough, but a violent passion shakes this courageous young woman to her core and changes her life forever." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I am not a huge Willa Cather fan. I previously had read My Antonia for book club and wasn't excited. Books about life on the farm in rural America really aren't my cup of tea. However, the book club I'm now in also decided to read Willa Cather's book O Pioneers! as it would make a great book for discussion. I do have to say that I like O Pioneers! much more than My Antonia. I love the strength of Alexandra. She is an amazing, intelligent woman with many difficulties in life to overcome. However, she trusts in her instincts and her abilities and grows greatly from what she learns. I found that I could relate to her and wished in someways that I had her strength. My second favorite character was Ivar who lives his life in his own way, no matter what most people think about him. I found him unique and extremely loveable.

Keeping in mind that I've only read two Willa Cather books, it seems to me that she focuses on intense struggles of individuals fighting against nature and people in order to grow their farms and themselves. Some of the struggles she writes about leave me feeling depressed and some of her characters simply drive me nuts. Personally, in this book I would love to strangle Lou and Oscar (two of Alexandra's brothers). To understand why you will have to read the book so that I don't give too much away. Overall I would have to say that I did like reading this book (though now I could use some ice cream and hugs to recover). ;-)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shapeshifter by Holly Bennett

Title: Shapeshifter
Author: Holly Bennett
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: The main character belongs to an immortal race known as the Sidhe. In this race you can be married to someone, but if you found someone else you fall in love with you simply leave and go live with the new person. This is moderately acceptable within this race. This aspect of the book is really only in relation to back story, but if this makes you uncomfortable then I suggest that you do not read this story.
Premise: "In order to escape the sorcerer who wants to control her gift of song, Sive must transform herself into a deer, leave the Otherworld and find refuge in Eire, the land of mortals." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I have read another series by Holly Bennett and absolutely loved it (for a review of the first book in that series please click here: The Bonemender. So I was thrilled to realize it that she had released a new novel just this year. The Shapeshifter follows the adventure of Sive who is one of the Celtic immortal race the Sidhe. From her father she has inherited the ability to shapeshift (her chosen form is that of a doe), and from her mother she has the ability to enchant people through song. When the Druid Far Doirche decides to capture her in order to use her songs to control others she must use her shapeshifting abilities to elude him. As a doe she enters into the realm of the mortals.

I love the idea of having different abilities inherited from each parent. I loved the strength that Sive shows through her ordeal. I even love that the story is told from different perspectives, and yet all revolves around what is happening to Sive. In fact I love that Ms. Bennett chose to take an Irish folktale and use a lesser known character to weave her story. There were two difficulties that I did have: 1) The Sidhe do not treat marriage and relationships as I would (but as this is a fictional story I can somewhat set that aside), 2) The climax of the story was not what I thought it would be (You will have to read the story to fully understand). Though Ms. Bennett's other series (The Bonemender) remains my favorite of hers, I did enjoy this read.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Alcatraz versus the Knights of Crystallia by Brandon Sanderson

For my reviews of the first two books in the Alcatraz series please click here: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones.

Title: Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (Book 3 in the Alcatraz series)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "When Alcatraz and Grandpa Smedry make a pilgrimage to the Free Kingdom city of Crystallia, they are shocked to find the city under siege by the Evil Librarians--led by Alcatraz's own mother." (King County Library System)
Opinions: I LOVE this series. The wit that goes into these books is outstanding. Sanderson does a brilliant job of the "voice" of the story - the person telling it. The characters our outrageously unique and funny. I also love how the narrator (Alcatraz Smedry) constantly mocks Brandon Sanderson the long-winded fantasy author.

In this installment we discover new Smedry talents, new uses for everyday things that you probably would have never thought of, and a greater depth to Alcatraz, Bastille, and especially Alcatraz's mother. This book continues to be brilliant in a series that makes me laugh with every single turn of the page. Please read take time to get to know this series.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark

Title: The Shadow of Your Smile
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Murder Mystery
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Murder
Premise: "At age eighty-two and in failing health, Olivia Morrow knows she has little time left. The last of her line, she faces a momentous choice: expose a long-held family secret, or take it with her to her grave. Olivia has in her possession letters from her deceased cousin Catherine, a nun, now being considered for beatification by the Catholic Church—the final step before sainthood. In her lifetime, Sister Catherine had founded seven hospitals for disabled children. Now the cure of a four-year-old boy dying of brain cancer is being attributed to her. After his case was pronounced medically hopeless, the boy’s desperate mother had organized a prayer crusade to Sister Catherine, leading to his miraculous recovery. The letters Olivia holds are the evidence that Catherine gave birth at age seventeen to a child, a son, and gave him up for adoption. Olivia knows the identity of the young man who fathered Catherine’s child: Alex Gannon, who went on to become a world-famous doctor, scientist, and inventor holding medical patents. Now, two generations later, thirty-one-year-old pediatrician Dr. Monica Farrell, Catherine’s granddaughter, stands as the rightful heir to what remains of the family fortune. But in telling Monica who she really is, Olivia would have to betray Catherine’s wishes and reveal the story behind Monica’s ancestry. The Gannon fortune is being squandered by Alex’s nephews Greg and Peter Gannon, and other board members of the Gannon Foundation, who camouflage their profligate lifestyles with philanthropy. Now their carefully constructed image is cracking. Greg, a prominent financier, is under criminal investigation, and Peter, a Broadway producer, is a suspect in the murder of a young woman who has been extorting money from him. The only people aware of Olivia’s impending choice are those exploiting the Gannon inheritance. To silence Olivia and prevent Monica from learning the secret, some of them will stop at nothing—even murder." (Book Jacket)
Opinions: I love Mary Higgins Clark books. I have loved them since I was a young teenager delving into all kinds of mystery novels. Some of her books are more suspenseful than others and a few of them have honestly freaked me out. The Shadow of Your Smile is the latest in Ms. Clark's plethora of works. As is traditional in her stories Ms. Clark does a fantastic job weaving the story from multiple view points in such away that entices the reader to weave the story together as it unfolds. In recent years Ms. Clark's books have more and more turned toward letting us see the bad guy's view point from the very first chapter. So not only do you get the story from the hero/heroine's point of view, but you find out all of the bad guy's thoughts and reasoning along the way. Even though you know who about the bad guy from the start, Ms. Clark still tells the story in such a way that you are still surprised in some aspect by the end.

In this book my favorite characters are the supporting characters. Though I adore Monica (our heroine) and wish, in some ways, to be like her, I found myself drawn to Nan, Ryan, Sophia, and even Catherine who you never meet but learn about from everyone else. My absolute favorite character is Susan. I can't reveal much as it would give away parts of the story, but here is a woman of strong character, morals and kindness.

If you love to read murder mystery I think you will enjoy this book. It is a quick read that kept me enthralled through each and every page.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pingo by Brandon Mull

This was the one book that I could not get a hold of when we did the Brandon Mull giveaway, and now my local library has finally purchased a copy. Whohoo!

Title: Pingo
Author: Brandon Mull (Illustrated by Brandon Dorman)
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "What happens when your imaginary friend becomes your imaginary enemy?" (Book Jacket)
Opinions: I'm not quite sure how to write a book review on something so short that it doesn't have page numbers, but I will give it a try. It's cute. Does that work? Just kidding.

In all honesty, this is a picture book that has very beautiful drawings that support the story wonderfully. The story itself is not what I expected, but you can't exactly have a long drawn out plot in a picture book. I kept thinking that the story could go deeper and have twists and turns, but then it wouldn't be a picture book. It had some things that I didn't expect, but overall I liked it. Now the true test will be to see if my daughter likes it. I think she will.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville

Title: Into The Land of the Unicorns (The Unicorn Chronicles Book One)
Author: Bruce Coville
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Children's Fantasy
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "As each bell chime sounds, Cara climbs faster up the steep bell tower. Eleven! She must be on the roof when the next bell tolls. Twelve! With a deep breath, and only half believing she will be safe, Cara jumps off the church roof and into Luster, land of the unicorns." "In Luster, Cara meets many wonderful creatures, but the most magnificent of all is Lightfoot, a rebellious young unicorn. Together with her new unicorn friend, a hairy creature named the Dimblethum, and the monkey-like Squijum, Cara sets out to reach the Unicorn Queen before the mysterious man following them does -- and to prevent the destruction of all unicorns"-- Book jacket.
Opinions: It has been sometime since I've read a book for children. In fact, even when I was young I was reading books for adults. This book is filled with fairytale-styled adventure where a young girl is forced to trust her grandmother and make a leap of faith into a world she has never known only to discover how truly tied she is to it. I love the creatures, the struggles, and the imagery of this story. I love most of all the strength that Cara has within herself to make some really difficult decisions. This is a great read for kids around the ages of 7-10, but is even fun for an adult like me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Title: Mistborn: The Final Empire
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Violence & Murder
Premise: "For a thousand years, the Lord Ruler reigned with absolute power and invincibility. Then, when hope was lost, a terribly scarred half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler's most hellish prison. Kelsier found in himself the powers of a Mistborn. A brilliant thief and natural leader, he turned his talents to the ultimate caper, with the Lord Ruler himself as the mark." (PG City Library)
Opinions: Once again Brandon Sanderson shows his incredible ability to create an in-depth fantasy world. The details that he uses are so intricate that I'm constantly amazed out how complete his creations are. As this fantasy is written for adults please be prepared that there is a lot of violence and blood shed. The age of the world he has created is one that is severely depressed by a tyrant who rules by extreme cruelty. So there are some scenes that REALLY made me cringe.

My favorite part of the story however involved Vin - a Skaa theif that Kelsier involves in his plans to overthrow the Lord Ruler. She is an intriguing character with amazing talents, and many more hang-ups that she works to overcome. Her extremely difficult upbringing gives her knowledge and abilities that strengthen her through intense situations. I loved watching her learn and grow and to decide if she could ever trust anyone -- especially Kelsier.

Overall, I really enjoyed delving into the Mistborn universe and getting to know its people, despite the intense bloodshed.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Time To Die by Jeffrey S. Savage

To see my review of the first book in this series please click here: House of Secrets.

Title: A Time To Die: A Shandra Covington Mystery (Book 3)
Author: Jeffrey S. Savage
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Mystery
Rating: Love
Alerts/Warnings: Drug-related deaths
Premise: "Reporter Shandra Covington becomes the "beloved" next target of a serial killer walking the streets of Salt Lake City. If she's to save herself, she must discover who is responsible for the recent deaths of several young women--all thought to be overdose victims." (PG Library System)
Opinions: I LOVE Shandra Convington. She is one of the most intriguing, best written, realistic characters out there. Shandra is spunky, brilliant, and a lot of fun to read about. I've loved learning about her from the first book in this series, House of Secrets, and she just keeps getting better. Shandra realizes when she's screwed up, and yet she always strives to follow her instincts and to do what is right. The only thing that matches her appetite for truth and being a reporter is her appetite for good food.

In true murder mystery form, this books has its twists and turns that left me with my jaw open a time or two as answers became revealed. I was so drawn into the story that I read it in under 24 hours (even while taking care of a 2-yr old with shingles, and a teething 9 month old). If you love a good murder mystery, then please read this entire series.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Title: Plain Kate
Author: Erin Bow
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: YA Fiction/Fantasy
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: violence associated with witches and witch hunts
Premise: "Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver's daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden charms are so fine that some even call her "witch-blade" -- a dangerous nick name in a town where witches are hunted and burned in the square. For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate's father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining the crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate. Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he'll give Kate the means to escape the town that seems set to burn her, and what's more, he'll grant her heart's wish/ It's a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realized that she can't live shadowless forever -- and that Linay's designs are darker than she ever dreamed (As written on book jacket)."
Opinions: I do not know what it is lately with me and the choice of books that I've read. I've read several in the last few weeks that I either did not like at all or something occurred in the book that made me feel uncomfortable with posting a review. So when I came across this I had a very large roadblock of doubt to overcome. With that said, overall I really enjoyed reading this book. The writing is very well done and you quickly connect with Kate through her experiences. Though Kate is an interesting girl in her own right, I was more drawn to the character of her cat --Taggles. Through magic Taggles is given the ability to speak and I must say that the author does an incredible job translating a cat's traits and superiority through in the way Taggle moves, speaks, and acts. I LOVED him. He made the entire story for me.

My one warning in regards to this book is that, though done as tastefully as possible considering the situation, some of the scenes in regards to mob mentality and the way people can act upon suspicions made me cringe and gave me goosebumps. So if your teenager is reading this book, please read it with them or before them so that you can talk about it as you see fit.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Famous Family Nights by Anne Bradshaw

Title:Famous Family Nights
Author: Anne Bradshaw
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Religious Non-Fiction
Alerts/Warnings: None
Premise: "Touching, inspiring, and often hilarious, the personal experiences in Famous Family Nights highlight family home evening as a priceless tool for building strong, faith-centered families, despite the many obstacles of modern life. The 91 contributors sharing their stories are moms and dads in various fields of entertainment and the community." (Good Reads)
Opinions: Anne Bradshaw contacted members of all professions that happen to be LDS and asked them what they remembered most about Family Home Evenings (Family Nights) growing up or with their current families. Stories from people like Alan Osmond, Josi S. Kilpak, Matthew Buckley, Rachel Ann Nunes, Lynn Gardner and many, many more helped me to understand that I am not the only one who struggles trying to create quality, consistent family experiences. The stories in this book helped me to generate new ideas, dump old ones, and learn from people of ages and careers. I learned from the experiences of people who were single, married, divorced, doctors, singers, actors, authors, scholars, homemakers and more about how they found joy in upholding Family Night (even if your family consists of a group of friends or just you and your spouse).

One of the great benefits of this book was that because it is a compilation of stories from different individuals I would pick it up while something was simmering on the stove or I was waiting in the doctor's office and I would find a quick pick-me-up within its pages. No matter what religion you are, if you are looking for ideas of how to connect with your family or friends on a more personal level through family time, then this book is for you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shapechanger's Song by Jennifer Roberson

Title: Shapechanger's Song (Chronicles of the Cheysuli Book 1)
Author: Jennifer Roberson
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Rating: Like
Alerts/Warnings: Scenes of violence related to battle, mildly graphic almost sexual assults
Premise: Long out of print (originally written in 1953), "The Chronicles of Cheysuli" is the sprawling saga of the exiles, and return, of a warrior race of shapechangers, whose magical odyssey begin in these two novels together in one volume: "Shapechangers" and "The Song of Homana". (King County Library System)
Opinions: Long ago, in a different part of my life I read this entire series of books and loved it. I just reread the first book in the series, Shapechangers Song and still loved the fantastical elements of this story, but found myself highly frustrated by some of the main character's actions and conflicted as to how I truly feel about the story.

I love to read books with strong female characters. In many ways, Alix (the main character) fulfills that request, though sometimes her stubbornness even drives me nuts. I can understand some of the frustration she experiences, being kidnapped from the home she loves only to learn that the truth of her past ties her fate in with a race of people being systematically executed by her own people. However, when Alix doesn't get her way she seems to turn into a two-year old who stamps her feet and throws a tantrum. The author does explain some of this away by saying that she comes by it honestly. However, it can get old. I would like to also warn to any parents whose teens might want to read this book that, though the story is good and the fantasy elements imaginative, this book often fades into more romance fiction written for adults before returning to fantasy fiction. There is also a lot of discussion of what is acceptable in a society in regarding to if it's acceptable to have a wife as well as a "light woman" (mistress).

So are you confused yet by my review? So am I. In the end I'll just say it is an enjoyable read with an amazing world and fascinating characters, but watch out for some minor, too in-depth moments of detail (or hinting of detail), that may make you blush if your kids read it. In the meantime, I personally choose to forgo reading the rest of the series this time around.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

THIS IS A MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Just saying)

Title: Elantirs
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Rating: FABULOUS!!!!!!!
Alerts/Warnings: Some graphic scenes (but done well)
Premise: "Elantris: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities to benefit all the people of Arelon. Yet each of these godlike beings had been an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Then, ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, feeble, leper-like creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling. The Shaod became a curse." "Arelon's new capital city, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris, which its people do their best to ignore. Princess Sarene of Teod has come to Kae for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping - based on their correspondence - also to find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died, and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. Sarene decides to make the best of a sad situation and use her position to oppose the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god." "But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspects the truth about Prince Raoden's disappearance. Taken by the same strange malady that struck the fallen gods of Elantris, Raoden was secretly imprisoned within the dark city. His struggle to create a society for the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps even reveal the secret of Elantris itself"--Book jacket.
Opinions: Oh my gosh!!! Oh my gosh!!! Oh my gosh!!! I know I'm behind the times and all, but Brandon Sanderson is now one of my all times FAVORITE authors. WAHOO!!! I've been reading fantasy for only 9 years so far, but have fallen in love with the genre, for adult, but more so for young adult. Right now the market in YA Fantasy is humungous and there are a large number of incredibly talented authors out there producing amazing work. As far as adult fantasy I've read some Tracy Hickman and Margarat Wise, one Orson Scott Card, and of course the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan. Once Mr. Jordan past away his wife requested that Brandon Sanderson help to finish his legacy. Now I can see why.

Elantris was Brandon's first published novel, and for a first time author (actually make that for any author) the work he does in Elantris is outstanding. The world he creates is vivid, imaginative, and intricate. The complexity of his stories and the details that he weaves throughout the plot are fantastic. One of my favorite aspects of Elantris is his female character Sarene. She can give every male character a run for her money, but she realizes her shortcomings and is constantly battling to improve herself. I connected deeply to her as a character and even her struggles. As I have only been reading fantasy for less than a decade I worried at how few really strong female characters are established in adult fantasy. I'm glad to see that Brandon Sanderson has alleviated some of my fears. Yet, the male characters of Elantris are just as fascinating, complex, and unique.

I loved his young adult series Alactraz Versus the Evil Librarians, and now I'm in love with his Adult Fantasy works. I cannot wait to get to the library and to check out anything and everything that he has written so that I can catch up with the rest of the world.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Charlie Bone and the Red Knight by Jenny Nimmo

If you would like to see my review for book one of this series please click here: Midnight for Charlie Bone. If you haven't read the rest of the series, or in the middle of reading it, there are some minor spoilers regarding the series below. So feel free to read everything except the "Opinions" section.

Title: Charlie Bone and the Red Knight (Book 8 The Children of the Red King series)
Author: Jenny Nimmo
Reviewer: Karen
Genre: mid-grade fantasy
Rating: Fabulous
Alerts/Warnings: Some battle scenes
Premise: Charlie and the Children of the Red King must call upon all of their strength to defeat the darkness and finally learn the fate of Charlie's family, the evil intentions of the Bloors, what has become of Septimus Bloor's will, and the destiny of the Red King's heirs. (King County Library System)
Opinions: Finally a series that I've loved that is now finished. Yes, it is true. This is the last book in the series. So anyone who prefers to hold off reading a series until it is all finished and published, then now is your time to delve into this series. YAHOO!!! Now I may be about to create an avalanche of criticism for what I am about to say, but I will brave the criticism and speak my mind. I love the Harry Potter series...it rocks. HOWEVER...this series beats it hands down in my book. Written for a slightly younger audience than the Harry Potter series this book still delves into a world of modern fantasy. Also like Harry Potter it is about a young boy with special powers who is being sent off to a school to hone that talent. However, unlike Harry Potter this school is Bloor's Acadamy, which hosts only a small amount of endowed children (known as the Children of the Red King). The remainder of the school is filled with regular children gifted in various aspects of the arts. So Charlie works with both endowed and unendowed in the battle against evil. Another aspect that is different is that each endowed child has a different ability allowing each one to compliment the others' abilities as they strive to overcome those endowed who are on the side of evil rather than good.

In this, the last and final installment of the Children of the Red King series, Charlie must decide whether or not to forgive old enemies in order to fight against the Bloors and their evil companions as they strive to take over the entire city with the help of ancestors who have been drawn to the present. Dealing with more and more adversaries, Charlie also struggles with wondering why his parents are on vacation instead of helping him to fight evil. I love how this story deals with struggles on multiple levels and learning how to trust and believe in others. Through all 8 books I have been intrigued by the characters, the plot, and the imagery. Jenny Nimmo has done a fantastic job and a large part of me is sad to see it come to an end. Of all the mid-grade series I have read, The Children of the Red King series is in the top 5 favorites of all time for me.