Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fell by David Clement-Davies

Here is a credible story about a  black wolf, Fell, who has been rejected by his pack, wandering alone in the forest, and refusing to use his gift of reading the minds of others.  This adventure is very believable as we read about the thoughts of animals and their human connection.  As a very young child Alina is saved by Fell and when she grows up she is labeled as a changeling which refers to a child left by fairies.  She is an outcast and unfairly treated by the family that takes her in to their home.  She seeks her destiny and tries to stay away from those who mean harm.  Alina and Fell share a common thread of loneliness and uncertainty about their fuure.

David Clement-Davies wrote Fell five years after The Sight, which is a prequel of this book but Fell does stand on its own.  The setting is Transylvania and and there is a connection with another famous character from this region.  Read this if you like intricate and adventurous stories about animals interwoven with humans.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Exploring Historical Fiction

On an island called Guernsey off the coast of the British Isles, a budding author makes contact with a strange group of people: members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  She writes them a letter and discovers through their correspondence that they are just as unique as their name.  She then unearths an amazing story about the islanders' survival through Nazi occupation and the role of the small island in one of history's most gruesome wars.

Set during and after World War II, the book is written entirely by letters and diary entries.  This allows the reader to feel a strong connection with each of the characters and get insights into their emotions throughout the book.  The author does an excellent job of incorporating history into the gripping tale of survival while still maintaining an easy-to-read style.

Why read this book?

Historical fiction is a genre that usually gets overlooked by the average teenager.  It's seen as boring, dull, or "the stuff we read in english class."  However, the world of history holds so many uncharted mysteries that are just waiting to be discovered.  What better way to travel than through reading a book?  How was it to stand on a field overlooking the Battle of Gettysburg?  What was Cleopatra thinking in her very last moments alive?  Did Napoleon regret his decision to invade Russia?  We can instantly step onto a pirate ship or walk around in Shakespeare's boots for the day without ever leaving the comfort of our homes.  All of this history and more is at our fingertips, just waiting to be dug up and explored.

~Sgt. Pepper

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I am large, I contain multitudes

It's hard to describe Marcus Sedgwick's "Midwinterblood" in any other terms other than possibly one of the most amazing books I've read in a long time. Pardon me for being blunt. I tried coming up with some sort of cute/interesting intro to lead up to my review but nothing seemed to fit. There is absolutely no way to introduce it outside of it being amazing. At this point I'm not even sure how to describe the plot of the book and what happens without spoiling massive quantities of it; everything is connected to everything else in some deep way. The best way to describe it would be with a small quote from the book:
It cannot be... that when our life is run, we are done. There must be more to man than that, surely? That we are not just one, but a multitude. (p. 250)
So it is that on a small Scandavian island where the mythical Dracula orchid grows, Eric and Merle, two souls in love, find then lose each other over and over and over again. Seven different stories weave together their tale of love surviving through the ages, through vampires and magic and war, going back to a time unrecorded by history. Only at the very end does the whole story become completely clear.  Only then do you see the end that is really the beginning.

~The Stacked Librarian

P.S. The title of the blog post is a Walt Whitman quote. It's from "Song of Myself." If you like Whitman, definitely read this book!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Beneath The Surface: Dystopian Round-Up

This year's teen summer reading program is themed Beneath the Surface! The best thing about reading is getting to learn about new ideas and realities that are unfamiliar to us. In dystopias, the characters are very often placed in situations that are just as alien, and they must search "beneath the surface" to discover what the truth is about their post-apocalyptic world. Come and kick your summer reading adventure off with these great dystopian titles!

 In Suzanne Young's The Program, teen suicide is an international epidemic. Sloane has already lost a brother to the disease, and her parents are desperate to keep her alive. She can't cry or express any honest emotion, because at the first sign of depression she will be shipped off to the Program and return stripped of her memories. When her boyfriend, James, begins to spiral into the illness, Sloane must find a way to keep him alive or risk him losing all memories of her forever.

 Incarceron by Catherine Fisher introduces a society where criminals and their descendents are sentenced to live in Incarceron, a living prison that enacts its own punishments. Finn has spent his entire life in the prison with no hope of escape. All that changes when one day he finds a key that allows him to speak to the warden's daughter outside Incarceron, and plan an impossile escape.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

(Stupendously) Bad Trip

There are some people who are fantasy people. There are some people who are sci-fi people. Then there are people like Platte F. Clark who have decided why not have both? In the same book. At the same time. Which is one reason why "Bad Unicorn" has to be one of my top book picks this year.

Middle school is hard enough when your mom doesn't understand your gaming obsession and you have to watch out for a bully called the Kraken, but then Max Spencer discovers the weird book he's had for years is magic. Like, real magic. And he's the heir to the greatest sorcerer of all, Maximilian Sporazo. It gets even worse when he accidentally transports himself, his friends Dirk and Sarah, and his local gaming store owner Dwight hundreds of years into the future... Meanwhile, a sorcerer in another realm is looking to get a hold of Max and his book. He recruits Princess, the most feared unicorn in the realm, to help him. But how can you track someone who's time traveled? And how exactly does one get back to the right time let alone fight a carnivorous unicorn (in the past AND the future), especially when you've only just discovered you can do magic?

With a bad tempered zombie duck, man-eating unicorns, golf-worshipping monks, more zombies, scary dragons, robot reality TV, and a talking sentient centipede game, "Bad Unicorn" is hysterical and awesome in so many amazing ways. Go read it. Now.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Magic and the Mafia

 White Cat, by Holly Black, is part mystery, part dark urban fantasy, part twisted romance, and part mob story.  I hope you like your fiction dark and bruised, because this story doesn't pull any punches.  It takes place in a world very much like our own, except everyone has to wear gloves to protect themselves from curses.  And our dubious "hero," Cassel Sharpe, knows a little more about working curses than your average Joe.

Cassel wakes up on the roof of his fancy high school dorm and nearly falls to his death. He's been sleepwalking again, and now the school is threatening to expel him as too much of a liability.  Was he really sleepwalking, or was he cursed? He dreamed of following a white cat....

Cassel is the only nonworker in a family of curse workers.  Since curse working was outlawed in the 1920s, most curse workers are employed by the mob.  At first, Cassel thinks he's only got to con his school into letting him back in.  Then he begins to think that the dream about the white cat might be related to the girl he loved when he was fourteen; the girl he killed. At least, that's what his two brothers told him after they dumped the body.  Cassel doesn't remember why he killed her, only that he was standing over her bloody body.  Now Cassel thinks his brothers are hiding something from him, something important.  To learn the horrible truth, he'll have to find the white cat from his dream. But the truth is a dangerous thing when the mob is involved, and Cassel finds himself caught between murder and treachery in the underbelly of curse worker society.

If you like White Cat, the curse workers series continues with Red Glove and Black Heart.

Happy reading.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Superhuman Immortals in Space!

Garth Nix's newest book, A Confusion of Princes, is a exhilerating space opera.  The main character, Khemri, is a Prince.  Which is pretty awesome as far as Khemri's concerned, except there's thousands of Princes in the intergalactic empire.  And he just discovered that they're all out to kill each other.  Khemri is going to have to work hard and stay ever-vigilant if he wants to survive.  He's got a lot of learning to do in a very short amount of time.  To make matters more complicated, he's also sent on a secret mission, so now even more people want to kill him, but for different reasons.  On top of all that, he's finding out that there's a lot of secrets and lies in the Empire - and a lot of them have to do with the Princes and their Priests and the Imperial Mind and Khemri himself. 

I want to tell you more because this book is so good, but everything else would be spoilers.  So read it - it's fantastic!

~ Book Ninja