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.