Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Waiting on Wednesday: Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel

This week's "Waiting on" is...

Starclimber
by Kenneth Oppel
Released February 24th, 2009
Sequel to: Airborn and Skybreaker

Summary from book jacket:

At long last Matt Cruise is at the helm...

Though it's only a summer job piloting a humble aerocrane, he's thrilled to be small part of something big. With every load, he's helping to build the Celestial Tower, Paris's extraordinary gateway to outer space. But Matt's idyllic summer is short-lived. He narrowly survives a deadly attack by the fanatical Babelites, who are opposed to humans reaching the heavens. Worse still, his nights spent stargazing with Kate de Vries must end when she's summoned back to Lion's Gate City by her parents. It's time she began to think of getting married. But then a chance of a lifetime boosts Matt's hopes of being airborne once more. Canada wants to reach space first, and Canadian Minister of Air has asked Kate to join the first expedition as an expert on aerial zoology. There's a place for Matt, too--if he can pass the grueling tests to become one of the world's first astralnauts on board the incredible ship Starclimber.

Why I'm waiting:
This is one of the few series my sister and I both read (we try not to do that often so that we're not completely "the same") because it's good. Not the height of great literature, but Kate is a strong and sassy female heroine, and while Matt is a little too good to be realistic, the series is original and entertaining and easy enough to read that our father also read the first two books and enjoyed them.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ink Mage's Top 2008 Books

Having read somewhere above (probably well above) 200 books since January, it was a tough choice to come up with my favorite books read (and published) in 2008. The idea was inspired--alright, sort of stolen--from The Story Siren's Top Picks in 2008 list...

Contemporary:

At first the cover really annoyed me and I was against it. Then I decided I'd just try it, and I ended up loving it!


Anything by E. Lockhart is good, and I loved watching each girl grow in her own way.

Retold Fairytales:

Very original fairytale retelling! (Full review)


Beautifully written and unique! (Full review)

Sequels:

It's Flora, what can I say?! Fun and completely uniquely original. (Full review)


The third Book of Pellinor. Darker than the previous two novels, but really good as always!

Exciting New Worlds:

Amazing. Enough said.


(I'm running out of ways to say a book was "awesome.") I really like dragons, and this was a pretty original work set in fantasy world a lot like China. I wish the cover was better, though.

Gorgeously Written:

Beth Kephart rocks.


Short and sweet with amazing characterizations.

Books I Wasn't Sure How to Categorize:

I liked how the author went into detail about the wolves' lives, although the plot was sort of cliché. I hope the sequel is more original. (Full review)


Received this as a gift for the holidays because I liked it so much! Loved Katsa's character growth. (Full review)


Great adventure story. (I think I liked it better than Wildwood Dancing but I can't remember.) The romance was a little too predictable, though.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Waiting on Wednesday: The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart

This week's "waiting on" is the third in a series of four, the Ruby Oliver books by E. Lockhart:

The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch--and me, Ruby Oliver
by E. Lockhart
Released July 28th, 2009
Sequel to: The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book

Ruby is back at Tate Prep, and it’s her thirty-seventh week in the state of Noboyfriend. Her panic attacks are bad, her love life is even worse, and what’s more: Noel is writing her notes, Jackson is giving her frogs, Gideon is helping her cook, and Finn is making her brownies. Rumors are flying, and Ruby’s already-sucky reputation is heading downhill. Not only that, she’s also: running a bake sale, learning the secrets of heavymetal therapy, encountering some seriously smelly feet, defending the rights of pygmy goats, and bodyguarding Noel from unwanted advances. In this companion novel to The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book, Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and to find true love—if such a thing exists.

Why I'm waiting:
The first two books in the series (The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book, to be read in that order) were great, of course! Ruby's voice is funny and original and the plots are interesting. I can't wait to read this one--and the next and last in the series, tentatively titled Real Live Boyfriends.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Random Music Gush

The Magic of Ink does not normally have anything to do with music, but a lot of things I love have been posted here, so I am going to write about music I love. More specifically, a band that I love:

What is it? Four Canadians and a native Scotsman who write, sing, and play the most amazing Celtic rock fusion ever. Seriously. Their instruments include keyboard, fiddle, bagpipes, acoustic and electric guitars, saxophone, tin whistles, drums, and harmonica and their music ranges from electrified traditional ballads...

Lanigan's Ball


and dance tunes...

Fiddle Set/Tune


to original instrumentals...

Congress


and vocals...

One Last Drink [ignore the complete randomness of the "music video." I wouldn't use it except it has the best sound]


with progressive lyrics...

Marti's Last Stand


which include many different music styles (jazz, Caribbean, Celtic, anything else you can think of) combined. Band member Trevor Lewington describes it better in the Enter The Haggis: Kicks in a Kilt interview.

There is only one person I know of who was introduced to ETH and didn't like them (I still haven't forgiven him!), saying that their songs all sounded "the same." But everyone else has become die-hard Haggis Heads, myself included after I attended one of their concerts in June... and then another concert right after Thanksgiving when they were touring in the area with some of their new music... and now I'm anxiously awaiting their new album, Gutter Anthems, which will be released on March 24th. Yay!

Go listen to the entirety of the group's three most recent albums (Casualties of Retail, Soapbox Heroes, and Northampton—a live recording and my favorite so far because they are so awesome live, and I think it has the best selection of songs) for FREE on their site—and listen to them LOUD. It's the best thing after a live performance. But really, if ETH is touring in your area and you even like their music a little bit, go and see them live.

Become a fan of them on the ETH Facebook page!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waiting on Wednesday: Betraying Season by Marissa Doyle

This week's "Waiting on"...

Betraying Season
by Marissa Doyle
Released May 26th, 2009
Sequel to: Bewitching Season

Penelope Leland has come to Ireland to study magic and prove to herself that she is as good a witch as her twin sister Persy. But when Niall Keating begins to pay her court, she can’t help being distracted from her studies. Especially when she learns that the handsome young nobleman is reputedly an illegitimate cousin of the new young Queen Victoria, her friend and idol, whom her sister saved from an ambitious wizard’s control spell the year before. Niall Keating has strict orders from his sorceress mother Lady Keating: to make young Miss Leland fall in love with him so that she can be convinced to use her magical powers to help reconcile him to his true father, the Duke of Cumberland, Queen Victoria’s uncle. Niall is delighted to comply until he discovers his mother’s true aim: to assassinate Queen Victoria by magic and put Niall’s father on the throne of England. Penelope is thrilled when Lady Keating reveals her powers and offers to tutor her in magic. But Niall has fallen deeply in love with the lovely young woman. Even if he halts his mother’s evil plans, will Penelope be able to forgive him for trying to seduce her into a plot against her beloved queen?

Why I'm waiting:
Betraying Season is the sequel to Marissa Doyle's debut novel, Bewitching Season (which you should probably read first). While the first of the "Leland Sisters" books wasn't one of my absolute new favorites, it was rather entertaining and amusing and I really enjoyed it. It made me think of Sorcery and Cecelia or: The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, and I have a feeling Betraying Season will have an entirely original plot of its own.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A New (To Me) Movie Series

While browsing the January selection for Risky Regencies' Jane Austen Movie Club I saw—listed along with the first Hornblower episode (squee! Watch that series. NOW)—Sharpe's Rifles. And it sounds quite interesting.
How could it not be? I mean, it's nineteenth century England (during the Peninsular War, which I don't know anything about, but oh well) and I'm sure there will be heroics and romance and friendship and, to quote Lydia Bennett, "a whole camp full of soldiers!"
Sharpe's Rifles is the first of sixteen movies (so far), and my sister and I shall begin watching them shortly unless they turn out to be utterly horrid.
Just thought some of you might be interested!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Waiting on Wednesday: The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby

Whoops, I missed last week's "waiting on," but I'll try to stay on schedule from now on. So for this week...

The King's Rose
by Alisa M. Libby
Released March 19th, 2009

Life in the court of King Henry VIII is a complex game. When fifteen-year-old Catherine Howard catches the king’s eye, she quickly transforms from pawn to queen. But even luxury beyond imagination loses its luster as young Catherine finds her life—and her heart—threatened by the needs of an aging king and a family hungry for power. Will their agendas deliver Catherine to the same fate as her infamous cousin, Anne Boleyn—sacrificed at the altar of family ambition?

Engaging historical fiction with a throbbing YA heartbeat, this thrilling novel will draw readers into the intrigues and dangers of the Tudor court.

Why I'm waiting:
The time of the Tudors has always interested me, and I like that this book focuses on one of the lesser-known of Henry's wives. A lot of books are about Anne Boleyn or Catherine of Aragon, but almost none about the tragic short life of Catherine Howard. This is Ms. Libby's second book, and I've never read her first, but I hope to find a new favorite!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Rowan of the Wood

by Christine and Ethan Rose

This book begins in Caledonia in 592 A.D., where a priest and priestess are preparing to marry. For many long years they have waited, remaining chaste until they come fully into their powers. Just as the ceremony is completed, raiders appear, pillaging and killing, and the newly weds are separated while fleeing to safety. Fiana is trapped in the Otherworld, while her beloved Rowan, having used all his power to defeat the invaders, is caught in his wand, helpless.
Years later, in the modern world, Cullen Knight runs away from his unhappy foster home and finds, buried deep in the redwood forest, a knotty piece of wood. Being an expert in fantasy, Cullen knows immediately that it’s a magic wand. But he does not know how drastically it will change his life.
Rowan—captured the same as he was on his wedding day—is still in the wand, and now he shares Cullen’s mind and is completely confused about the modern world. Meanwhile Fiana is on her way to California, but the years of suffering without her true love have been harder for her than they have been for Rowan, and she might not be what Cullen or Rowan is expecting once they find her.

The prologue and first chapter drew me in right away, despite my reservations based on the cover (which I think doesn’t fit with the feel of the novel at all). I really liked the magical plot; it was original and unpredictable, and appropriate for younger readers but deep enough to also capture the minds of adults. I can see how the very basic plot of Rowan of the Wood could be compared to Harry Potter, and a couple of the characters resemble each other slightly, but the magic and characters seem a whole lot more real even this early in the series. I thought that Fiana’s personality was the most developed and interesting, seeing her change from hopeful to hopeless, then to cruel and power-hungry for the love of her lost husband.
I’m looking forward to reading Cullen’s next adventures!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Email Address

The Magic of Ink got an email address! Now if you have questions you can write to us at:

I will probably answer more often, but if you would specifically like to write one of us, just use our blog names in the greeting (e.g. "Hi, Tyto Alba") or subject line, and said reviewer will answer.

Looking forward to hearing from you!
Ink Mage and Tyto Alba

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Waiting on Wednesday: Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart

My "Waiting on" Wednesday this week is Nothing but Ghosts, by the amazing Beth Kephart. If you haven't read any of her novels (so far two, Undercover and House of Dance), you really should. And whether you read her books or not, you must visit her blog, on which she publishes thoughtful, beautiful observations on life, family, photography, dance, the kindness of people, and anything else imaginable.

Nothing but Ghosts
by Beth Kephart
Released July 1st, 2009

Ever since her mother passed away, Katie’s been alone in her too-big house with her genius dad who restores old paintings for a living. Katie takes a summer job at a garden estate, where, with the help of two brothers and a glamorous librarian, she soon becomes embroiled in decoding a mystery. There are secrets and shadows at the heart of Nothing but Ghosts, symbols hidden in a time-darkened painting, and surprises behind a locked bedroom door. But most of all, this is a love story—the story of a girl who learns about love while also learning to live with her own ghosts.

This is a heart-felt, lyrical tale from the National Book Award nominated author of Undercover and House of Dance.

Why I'm waiting:
Ms. Kephart's first two novels were so beautiful they made me wish time would slow down so that I could lose myself in the writing and I am eagerly anticipating this one. Plus the awesome cover makes me want to find out the secrets within.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb

I've seen a couple other bloggers take part in "Waiting on" Wednesday, which is the invention of Jill from Breaking the Spine. I wanted to try it out, so my first one is...

The Fetch
by Laura Whitcomb
Released February 2nd, 2009

Description from Amazon:
Calder is a Fetch, a death escort, the first of his kind to step from Heaven back to Earth. The first to fall in love with a mortal girl. But when he climbs backwards out of that Death Scene, into the chaos of the Russian Revolution, he tears a wound in the ghost realm, where the spirits begin a revolution of their own.

Why I'm waiting:
Laura Whitcomb's debut novel, A Certain Slant of Light, really enchanted me--at least the first time I read it; the second time it wasn't as good, but I think that's because I knew what the outcome would be. The Fetch sounds very original and Ms. Whitcomb's writing has had a chance to mature. I have high hopes for this one!

Anything you're looking forward to?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Big One Zero Zero

One year and 11 months after beginning blogging, The Magic of Ink has reached 100 posts. It seems like it's taken a long time, especially when I compare this blog with others who reached the 100-post milestone when they were six months old.

Well, we made it here anyway, thanks to all our wonderful readers! Your comments and continued visits let us know you're reading and we love your opinions.

Looking forward to bringing you more reviews,
Ink Mage

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pipe Major William Wilson

I wasn't tagged by anyone, but most people (like Liv, Taren, Harmony, and Chelsea, to name a few) have said anyone reading their completed meme is tagged. I've been tagged many times, so here's mine. Warning: Besides the rules, what you are about to read will make little or no sense. I have too many classical pieces and too much Celtic music with random names in my playlist for that. The rules:

1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS.
4. Put the artist after a dash following the song name.
5. Put any comments in brackets.
6. Tag some lucky people to spread the disease.

How would you describe yourself?
The Celts - Enya
[I wish! Unfortunately I only have a little Scottish blood in me, and no Irish or Welsh that I know of.]

How do you feel today?
Overture to Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

What is your life’s purpose?
The Girl That Broke My Heart/Cooley's Reel - Florie Brown
[Does that make any sense?]

What is your motto?
'Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen' ("Hell's vengeance boils in my heart"), also known as "the Queen of the Night Aria" - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)
[Um, no. Definitely not. Although that is an awesome piece of music.]

What do you think about very often?
Piano Concerto No. 21: Andante - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

What is your life story?
Carmen Suite: Les Toréadors: Allegro giocoso - Georges Bizet
[Toréador means "bullfighter." I'm just glad I didn't get this song for the next question!]

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Come Away with Me - Norah Jones

What will you dance to at your wedding?
Für Elise - Ludwig van Beethoven
[That would be...interesting.]

What will they play at your funeral?
Requiem: Lacrimosa - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
[I swear I didn't try to do that.]

What is your hobby/interest?
In the Morning - Norah Jones

If you could do anything right now, what would it be?
The Duchess and the Devil opening music - John Keane
[From the Horatio Hornblower movies.]

What do you want most of all?
A Little Night Music - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

What is your greatest fear?
Sunrise - Norah Jones
[This would be cool if I wanted to be a vampire or something.]

What is your darkest secret?
Anywhere Is - Enya

What is your favorite thing in the world?
Pirates of the Carribean arranged for symphonic orchestra by Klaus Baldet - Hans Zimmer
[And in this case played by an orchestra that my friend's in!]

If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?
Taylor Bar, 4am/Ceol Na Mara - Lúnasa

What is your theme song?
Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson

The next time you hear this song (aside from now, that is), you must dance:
Symphony No. 8: II Adagio - Antonín Dvořák
[Hahahahaha, is all I have to say. Anyone familiar with the piece would agree. "How the heck would you dance to that?" I rhetorically asked no one in particular. "I don't know, but I'm going to make you!" my sister replied.]

What will you post this as?
Pipe Major William Wilson - Bonnie Rideout and Eric Rigler

Like everyone else is doing, you're tagged if you're interested!

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Juliet Club

by Suzanne Harper

Quiet, plain Kate Sanderson thinks she knows everything there is to know about love and Shakespeare. Until her boyfriend dumps her and her essay on Romeo and Juliet wins her a trip to Venice to take part in a series of Shakespeare Seminars. Professoressa Marchese has a very different view of Shakespeare than Mr. Sanderson, but Kate finds it over the top. And she doesn’t get how answering letters to “Juliet” will help her and the other students understand the play. Despite her friend Annie’s prediction and despite the handsome but irksome Giacomo, Kate refuses to be transformed by her summer in Italy. But her transformation might not be something she has control over....

Like The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney, The Juliet Club surprised me. In the beginning the characters acted tiresomely like high school freshmen rather than juniors as they were supposed to be, but fortunately once Kate arrives in Italy she acts a bit more mature. While the characters stay rather flat throughout the whole novel, they do grow in some ways and that kept them interesting enough.
Unfortunately, sometimes it was very hard to keep track of which character was which, especially when several were introduced at once. Ms. Harper has a way of skipping from one “narrative” (although its in third person) to another with little or no warning, making it very confusing at times.
The plot is probably the best part about the book, because although some parts were predictable, there were clever references to Shakespeare’s plays woven into the plots. I could see some elements of Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing (very obviously), and others. The way the Bard’s characters still pertain to people today came up in the Juliet Club’s discussions, and the subtle plot bits that were similar seemed to strengthen that point.
The Juliet Club
is a fun, slightly shallow read that, even though I don’t usually go for those types of books, kept me giggling and anticipating what would happen next.

Jocelyn of Teen Book Review has a thoughtful and well-written (as always) review of The Juliet Club here.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

General Winston’s Daughter

by Sharon Shinn

Lady Averie tries very hard to be a perfect lady, but she never quite manages. She’s always too impulsive and curious, and it drives her chaperone, Lady Selkirk, nearly mad.
On the journey to join her fiancé—Colonel Stode—in distant Charrin, Averie is bored to tears with life aboard a ship, until she meets Lieutenant Ket Du’Kai. The handsome young lieutenant entertains her and expands her world by explaining the reasons that her native Aebria overtook and colonized Chiarrin.
Although it is said to be a rough place not fit for a lady, Averie instantly falls in love with the bright colors and delightful festivals of Chiarrin. Her feelings regarding Chiarrin and her beloved Colonel Stode begin to change.

I have truly enjoyed Sharon Shinn’s previous books, despite their being somewhat predictable and you can always tell that they’ll end happily. But this one was a huge disappointment.
Averie acted more like a spoiled 12-year-old than her supposed age of eighteen, and didn’t have much depth after being curious and demanding. None of the other characters were developed beyond having some extremely basic personality trait, either.
Another issue I had was the romance. For one thing, it was predictable; I could tell that Averie would fall for Lieutenant Du’Kai literally from page one. For another, I haven’t the faintest idea what Ket Du’Kai sees in Averie. Lastly, aside from their few “meaningful” conversations, their relationship was almost completely built on flirting on both their parts and feeling protective on his.
And the plot...was boring and slightly predictable. Averie “grew” from very spoiled to not so spoiled while in Chiarrin, a time that seems to drag on and on for the reader. When the climax finally comes it seems tacked on, as if Ms. Shinn changed her mind about the conclusion at the last minute, or had a limited amount of pages with which to finish the story.
I’m sorry to say that General Winston’s Daughter was definitely not my favorite of Sharon Shinn’s books.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Palace of Mirrors

by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Although Cecilia Aurora Serindia Marie has grown up in a rustic little village far from the glamorous capital of Cortona, she’s always known that one day she will go there, to the famous Palace of Mirrors, and claim her rightful title. Why? Because Cecilia—also known as Eels or Eelsy—is the true princess, heir to the throne of Suala. After her parents were murdered when she was a baby, Cecilia was taken away and hidden; and to protect her from her enemies, a “fake” princess (a commoner named Desmia) was put in her place. But when Cecilia is fourteen, it looks like her enemies have found her. One night they attack, unsuccessfully trying to kill her, and Cecilia knows that this means her life in the peaceful village is over: despite the possible dangers, she must go to Cortona and take up her position as princess of Suala. So with her faithful friend Harper, his harp (yes, the name is quite literal), and a bag of food, she sets off to meet her fate—or is it really her fate after all?

Palace of Mirrors was a nice, easy, good read that I finished in a few hours and enjoyed. It isn’t based off a fairytale like Just Ella (although it’s set in the same world; Suala is at war with Ella’s country and Ella is in Suala as part of a peace delegation), but it has a fairytale-ish charm to it and things work out happily in the end, of course—even if not entirely as expected. Fans of Just Ella, Margaret Peterson Haddix, or fairytale stories in general will love this.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Graceling

by Kristin Cashore

Katsa killed her cousin at the age of eight...with her bare hands, and without any training in fighting. Her Grace is killing, and her uncle, King Randa, decides to have her trained by the best warriors and use her for his own purposes. Now ten years later, known as the Lady Killer, and kept in the palace as her uncle’s secret weapon, Katsa has no friends aside from her cousin Raffin. The rest of the court finds her Grace-marked eyes (one blue and one green) disconcerting, and fear for their lives if they angered her. One night, on a mission of her own, Katsa meets another Graced fighter, a Lienid who, strangely, trusts her. Wary, Katsa can’t believe she’ll have anything to do with him other than go back on her stupid choice to let him live.

I really, really loved the first half of this book. Katsa’s character is so well developed—her reactions to new things like trust and finding that she’s not as heartless as everyone lead her to believe are so realistic. And her friendship with Po (whose name unfortunately reminds me of the littlest Teletubby) is completely believable and very sweet.
However, the second half became a lot more generic and didn’t capture my interest as much. Perhaps it was because I was distracted from the book at an inopportune time—right before Katsa and Po’s relationship became romantic—and it made it seem like the two halves didn’t quite fit together. (That was a very slight spoiler because despite the description of Katsa and Po being “insurmountably incompatible,” you can tell right away that they’re not going to be.)
The plot was fast-paced and the characters’ missions changed throughout the course of the story, giving it a good range of situations and keeping it interesting, but at times I wanted to scream at the characters. They could be so dumb! It took them forever to realize things sometimes, while I’d been suspicious about it for the last fifty pages. Graceling is a stunning debut novel, and a pretty darn good novel at all. I highly recommend it, especially for fans of Tamora Pierce. Also, The Hunger Games (which I have yet to read because too many people have it ahead of me at the library) is said to be on some levels similar, so if you’ve already read Graceling, check that out, too.

And because there's a book trailer for it that I actually like (except for Po! He's supposed to be blond!), I'll provide that, too:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Devouring

by Simon Holt

“They lurk in the cold and dark. Hungry and wicked, they wait for their one chance to devour the weak on Sorry Night. Then the Vours feast on a banquet of fear. Your fear. They steal your soul but your body remains. No one knows the difference.”
Regina Halloway has been an obsessor of horror movies and gruesome comics since she was a little girl. She’s not afraid of any of them -- rather, they give her a delightful chill and help to keep her thoughts away from her mother, who abandoned their family a year ago. Now Reggie has to be one to take care of her eight-year-old brother, Henry, and she finds it an exhausting burden. So when Reggie finds an old journal called The Devouring at the bookshop where she works, it seems like the perfect thing to immerse herself in. But when Reggie reads part of the book to Henry as a bedtime story, she couldn’t imagine the disaster that would follow. “Vours,” dark things that invade your body and devour your soul, are especially active on the Winter Solstice -- and guess on what night Reggie reads the story aloud? Reggie doesn’t know what to do or who to trust, but she does know one thing: she has to defeat the Vour that takes over her little brother…while at the same time keeping herself from being consumed by her own fear.

This was, essentially, a horror novel. I wasn’t expecting that (I think I’d read the summary a while ago and forgotten what exactly it was about), and while it wouldn’t usually be my kind of book, I enjoyed it a lot. The Devouring was a pretty creepy story (if you have a fear of freakish demonic clowns, beware!) with good characters and enough emotional fear to make it seem realistic; it wasn’t all just undead people and stuff like that. I appreciated that Reggie’s best friend Aaron was a boy who, while he could have been gay, it never said either way, and he didn’t secretly like her, either. It was refreshing. The only thing I found strange was that Reggie was the protagonist, but then there would be some random bits (not even whole chapters, usually) where it seemed almost from Aaron’s or Henry’s points of view. Otherwise, nicely done.

I was very glad to find that this is the first in a series -- so far no title or release date for a book #2, but I’ll definitely keep an eye on Simon Holt and hope that he writes fast. Visit www.thedevouring.com for more info.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Flora's Dare

How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room)
by Ysabeau S. Wilce

While it is possible for it to be read as a stand-alone, Flora’s Dare is the smashingly good sequel to Flora Segunda (my review), so go read that first, as it is also an imaginative work of Extreme Originality. I shall try to refrain from spoilers for those who have yet to read the first.

Flora Segunda’s latest adventures begin with an essay on what she learned last term, made up of the most unusual lessons that also serve as a cleverly un-boring reminder to readers of what transpired in the last volume. This time around, Flora has to deal with a now-sober father who tries to keep Crackpot Hall in military order, from Flora’s lessons to what time she goes to bed. But Flora is desperate to learn the magickal language of Gramatica, an essential for becoming a ranger like her role model, the legendary Nini Mo. When the chance to see disguised magician Firemonkey play in the band he uses as a cover, she leaps at it.
During the concert, a large tentacle suddenly grabs Flora, who believes she has discovered the cause of the mysterious earthquakes that recently began shaking Califa. She has to stop it before the entire city collapses on itself, but how will it ever be possible the only people she can turn to for help is one of her mother’s enemies (and a dashing one at that), Crackpot Hall’s whiny, dissipating Butler, her overly fashion-conscious best friend Udo (who is also obnoxiously obsessed with the supercool, sophisticated Zu-Zu), and a plushy pig? Oh, and she’s confined to her room until her mother (Commanding General of the Warlord’s Army) returns from Fort Jones, and who knows when that will be?

After the highly exciting, extremely original and, quite frankly, bizarre first novel in the series, Flora’s Dare does not disappoint. The characters develop nicely (although some things Udo does don’t seem to fit him at all), the action and adventure move along at breakneck speed, and it never, ever lacks in inventiveness in any way. The only thing left to say is, Ms. Wilce, when shall the sequel be released?
There are a few more mature themes in Flora’s Dare than there were in Flora Segunda.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fun at Borders

Who but true book addicts are able to spend a solid two hours at a bookstore for something fun to do? Apparently Tyto Alba (my sister), myself, and our friend Gem really love reading because that's how we spent Thursday evening. (I think the employees actually thought we might be shoplifting or something, because we got some strange looks after an hour or so.)

I always bring paper and a pen so I can write down titles of books that look interesting, of which there were a lot before I started blogging and reading blogs. But last night...I found only seven books that I want to read, a few of which I was already aware. Blogging is so awesome because now I hear about so many more books than I used to.
For example, my friend picked up Evernight and asked, "Is this a vampire book?"
"Yep," I answered after a very quick glance at the cover. I haven't even read it.
Later on, "Is this book good?"
Me: "It's supposed to be."
Gem: "You know everything! How do you know everything?!"

It was quite entertaining.

After finally exhausting the YA section, Gem skimmed the manga, my sister and I drooled over the "British TV" DVD section, we all laughed over the stupid romance novels, and then ate chocolate in the café area.

Gem needed a new book now and bought Hilary Frank's I Can't Tell You. I want to read it, too, but I'm getting it from the library. I have a $25 gift certificate and might have bought something, too, but always have trouble deciding what to buy.

Friendship, books, and chocolate, what else can you want?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Update. Changes?

This hasn't been the most active blog recently. The truth is I've become a bit too used to Goodreads, where I can just toss out some random thoughts and not have to write a real review.

I just went through our really long blogroll and edited out the links that are broken or blogs that haven't been updated in many months. If you read this blog and don't see your name on the list, sorry! Leave a comment and I'll add your blog link ASAP.

And I was wondering...what do you, faithful reader, want to see different on this blog? Could you please answer the poll on the sidebar? And a comment if you have any suggestions to make it more exciting. I've gotten a bit lax about posting, so I think I need something new to add to my recommendations and get me more excited again. :-)

Thanks,
Ink Mage

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sovay

by Celia Rees

In the year 1794 rich and beautiful Sovay has no real concerns until her betrothed betrays her with a chambermaid. Taking the matter into her own hands, she dresses in men’s clothes, stops James’ coach, and orders him to “Stand and deliver!” Enjoying the excitement, Sovay continues her daring robberies—not for the money, but the power over men. Taking a step too far, Sovay robs Sir Royston, one of England’s most influential men. Before she knows it she is thrown into tangled plots that involve both England and France, her family and her enemies, the weak and the powerful.

Having loved Pirates!, devoured Witch Child, and liked Sorceress, I expected to really enjoy Sovay, but regrettably it did not live up to my hopes.
First of all, I’m not sure why Ms. Rees based the story or character off the Sovay in the folksong, as with the exception of the very start, Sovay’s story had nothing to do with daring hold-ups and escapes as the summary and first chapters seemed to promise.
Along with the disjointed plot segments, the character development was not at all realistic; Sovay jumped suddenly from innocent girl into the role of legendary highwayman, then back to a lady, then to determined young woman. It was as if the author couldn’t decide to write a romanticized story of a highwayman’s life, or a gritty and realistic description of la Terreur.
The last quarter or so of the novel, after it had smoothed out to the terrors of the Revolution, was my favorite, but it didn’t quite make up for the rest of the book.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Memed!

Kayla tagged me with this meme. I have no idea if Tyto Alba will do it or not....

What was I doing 10 years ago?

Being a weird little kid.

What are five things on my to-do list today?

1. Get up at 5:30 a.m. to go to work.
2. Go to work.
3. Finish Alfred Kropp: The Thirteenth Skull (which I am not that thrilled to be reading) so that I can read my more exciting new books I just got at the library last night. (I could put the same thing as Kayla's was for #4 here, but I don't know if it would be for the same reason/s. Mine is boredom.)
4. Eat something at least a little more healthy than last night's dinner (which was French toast because I haven't been shopping and we did actually have all the ingredients for it).
5. Listen to good music at some point in the day.

Snacks I enjoy:
I don't eat them that often, but I like wheat crackers, fruit, and Triscuits.

Places I've lived:

Three different houses on the East Coast of the US, and none of them exciting.

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Pay other people to fix this house up really nice, buy BOOKS, an iPod, and music. Donate money to my Sea Scout Ship (instead of troops the units are called "ships") and charities.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Queen’s Own Fool

A Novel of Mary Queen of Scots
by Jane Yolen & Robert J. Harris

One wet day Nicola Ambruzzi is performing in the streets with Troupe Brufort in Rheims, France, when a royal gentleman stops and asks them to come and put on their show for the kind and queen at the palace. Her oily Uncle Armand can hardly believe his luck and tells Nicola to “keep her tongue to herself,” though it is her sharp tongue that rewards him in the end. The court has seen most of the tricks the troupe performs and is not impressed. When Nicola makes a mistake and turns what could have been a disaster into an entertaining sideshow the court applauds and admires her quick wit. Queen Mary is offers to buy Nicola’s freedom and take her into her service. So, Nicola becomes the queen’s own fool, is given new clothes and has plentiful food to eat. Though not everyone is her friend, she has the ear of a queen, who could ask for more? Then plots for power and the throne increase and Nicola is caught in the middle of the court games of who will rule and who will die.

Yolen and Harris’ richly detailed writing sweeps readers into the characters’ lives, the plots of the court, and medieval life from the very beginning. The seamless blend of believable characters and their emotions with a very close telling of the story of the “queen without a country” makes this an unforgettable book. I have read this novel several times, and it still keeps its magic for me. Read the companion novels—also about troubled historic Scotland—Girl in a Cage, Prince Across the Water, and The Rogues.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bleak House

2005
Starring: Anna Maxwell Martin, Denis Lawson, Gillian Anderson, Carey Mulligan and Patrick Kennedy
Directed by: Justin Chadwick & Susanna White
Fourteen 30-minute episodes

It’s hard to write a summary of this movie because it’s about many things. But it centers (for the most part) on Esther Summerson, who is has recently been taken into the care of Mr. John Jarndyce, to be a companion to his ward, Ada Clare. Mr. Jarndyce’s family is at the bottom of the Jarndyce and Jarndyce law suit, which has been unresolved for years and years and has driven several people mad. Also in the movie there is the beautiful and mysterious Lady Dedlock, who has something to do with Esther’s unknown past – and who lives in fear that her magnanimous secret will be sniffed out by Mr. Tulkinghorn, a somewhat predatory lawyer. Throughout the movie, Esther remains calm and kind, even when she catches a terrible illness and is near death. But problems arise of many different kinds: Richard, Mr. Jarndyce’s other ward, is interested in the Jarndyce suit and becomes more and more obsessed with “putting his shoulder to the wheel” and getting it settled. And Ada, who is an innocent and sweet girl, blindly puts her faith in the man she loves. As for Esther’s own happiness, there are things she has no control over tugging at her fate – but she also has to decide for herself.

I was very impressed by this adaptation of Dickens’s novel. The random crashing sound effects at the start of some scenes was a little odd – sort of like they were trying to make it too dark – but after a few episodes I got used to it and barely noticed anymore. The cast was incredible, especially Burn Gorman as Guppy (there could be no one else so perfect in the role) and Denis Lawson as Mr. Jarndyce. My main disappointments were Mr. Smallweed and Mr. Vholes; neither of them were much like in the book. But a lot of the lines I recognized as being straight from Bleak House, which was a definite point in Andrew Davies’s favor. All in all, I found this to be a delightful movie which didn’t exactly follow the book but was a darn good adaptation. Those who haven’t read it would probably like the film just as much as those who have.



My first review (but not my first book) for Becky’s Charles Dickens Mini-Challenge 08.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Flickr Photo Meme

I saw this meme several places, but I didn't decide to do it until Felicity from Look Books did it. It was fun and different than most of the other memes going around recently. I just wish I could have had my original choices for numbers 1 and 6 (the people who owned those two chose not to allow them to be used that way).

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into flickr search.

b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

1. What is your first name? (As "Ink")
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush/hero?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name. (I just used "Ink Mage" since I don't have a Flickr account)

1. Ink in Water Details, 2. CHICKEN TANDOORI, 3. I’m not truant – I’m Homeschooled, 4. Color me lonely...color me blue, 5. Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (Raoul Walsh, 1951), 6. Egg nog, 7. topsail schooner pride of baltimore ll sailing near diamond head hawaii by bill mcallen © all rights reserved, 8. Peppermint ice cream with chocolate sauce., 9. Unsure Undecided Vague, 10. I'm not just a music freak. I can read too!, 11. 51*366/Each One Unique..., 12. AFTER bluedragon02

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fewer Posts...Maybe

I wanted to let all of you know that there might be a bit fewer posts to this blog in the future (unless of course I can get Tyto Alba to take up some of the slack). Right about...now my first day of work is beginning. Hooray. I hope I like it at least a little more then I think I will.
Usually writing reviews doesn't take me that long, but the problem will be that I won't have as much time for reading. And if any of you happened to have looked at my reading list for the year, you'll know I only recommend a small percentage of what I read.
But perhaps it will make me become more selective in my reading, so I put down the books I don't enjoy so much, who knows. Major life changes scare me. :-)
Hopefully with the new scheduled posts feature, I'll be able to post something at least every once in a while.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Everlost

by Neal Shusterman

A crash, flight through a dark tunnel, landing, sleep.
Nick and Allie are each in one of the cars involved in a head-on collision, and when they wake they’ve been forgotten in the nearby woods, but they’re still alive. Or are they?
When they meet a boy with no name, they are told that they have entered the world of Everlost and become Afterlights. Would you believe that if someone told you? Neither do Allie and Nick...until no one seems to see them and a bus passes right through Allie.
The two decide to make their ways towards home, to see whether their family members survived. Attacked by a gang of bullies along the way, the companions find refuge in the Everlost versions of the Twin Towers, a dead-spot that has become an Afterlight haven.
But soon Allie notices the pleasant way of life is strangely repetitive, and she knows she must find out why. Throw in a underhanded age-old six-year-old called the Haunter, who can actually lift and move living objects, and a legendary Everlost monster called the McGill (who reminded me of Disney’s Davy Jones), and you’ve got one adventurous and original book.

Everlost played almost like a movie in my head, and there is, in fact, a movie scheduled for adaptation with a 2009 release. The author created a very unique afterlife, the plot is well paced—with some unexpected twists—and the characters change believably throughout the story. However there were several unexplained questions that came up that I wish had been answered, like why don’t many animals cross into Everlost? And why do things such as Everlost balls sink into the ground of the living, while the boats of Everlost don’t sink through living water?
Overall, Everlost was really good and I’d recommend it to anyone. I wouldn’t say it was amazing, but then again I’m very selective about books.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Promise of the Wolves

by Dorothy Hearst

Once, long ago, a youngwolf kept company with a human child, and brought war and destruction to the land. Now there is a law against association with humans, as well as one to kill all pups with Outsider blood.
The wolflets of Neesa are such pups, and they must be killed. But Kaala fights back when the pack leader, Ruuqo, is about to end her life. And amazingly, the Greatwolves (the wolf-lords of the valley) want her to live; perhaps she is the one the Ancients have chosen to restore the Balance. Or perhaps not.
Although Kaala is officially part of the pack, that doesn’t make Ruuqo or his pups accept her any better. Kaala is determined not to become the curl-tail of the pack, which is especially hard when she is the outcast. And when she comes in contact with a human girl, she is strangely and powerfully drawn to the hairless animals she was taught to fear. It will take all the help and advice her friends Tlittoo, the raven trickster, and Ázzuen can give to keep her from doing something too stupid.
But what if “stupid” can save the lives of every human and wolf in the valley?

Dorothy Hearst’s debut novel is very unique and well researched. Each animal has a voice that humans can relate to, and yet one that is distinctly untamed and suited for the animal’s characteristics. Promise of the Wolves creates a great premise for the rest of the trilogy, and I hope to read the second book of The Wolf Chronicles very soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Saving Juliet

by Suzanne Selfors

Starring as Juliet opposite the handsome Troy Summer, everyone’s attention on her, wearing dresses fit for a princess, should be Mimi’s dream, right? Unfortunately for Mimi Wallingford (a name often followed by “great-granddaughter of Adelaide Wallingford,” founder of the family theatre), Troy is an arrogant dolt who can’t act his way out of a paper bag, she dreams of a medical career, and now she’s getting major stage fright.
About to snap in two with the pressure, Mimi takes Troy’s suggestion and goes to Verona, but not intentionally and not in the modern day world. Fleeing her over-controlling mother just before a performance, Mimi rushes out the backstage door and into...a sixteenth century Verona populated by Montagues and Capulets. This just might be worse than performing in front of a large audience—especially when one is dressed in the Capulet colors and yet is falling for the dashing Benvolio Montague, Troy’s total opposite.
But soon Mimi is on running for her life for trying to save the real Juliet from marrying the horrible Paris Calchetto IV, and she does not know how to get back to Manhattan.

From the cover I didn’t expect much, but Saving Juliet really surprised me. It had romance, depth, an original storyline and characters, and several pretty hilarious bits. The plot had a few interesting twists, and those with any Shakespearian knowledge will enjoy seeing their favorite quotes as chapter titles. I very much look forward to future books by Suzanne Selfors.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Author Meme

I have been tagged with another meme! And by three people (Dominique, Jordyn, and Nicole B.), too. I must be getting more popular or something. Tyto Alba was also tagged (by Nicole and Jordyn), but declined filling in the meme. For which I'm kind of glad, because while our tastes are similar, they wouldn't be so alike that common favorite authors would be easy to figure out like Nicole challenged us to. Anyway...

Rules: Link to the person that tagged you, post the rules somewhere in your meme, answer the questions, tag six people in your post, let the tagees know they’ve been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog, let the tagger know your entry is posted.

Who’s you all-time favorite author and why?
That's a really hard question; I read so many different genres and have so many different favorites in all of them that I doubt I could ever choose. So I'll just name some: Alex Flinn, Tamora Pierce, L.M. Elliot, Laurence Yep, Celia Rees.

Who was your first favorite author and why? Do you still consider him/her among your favorites?
I honestly do not remember. I'm not sure exactly when I began reading, but somewhere around the age of 4 comes to mind. So maybe it was Arnold Lobel (Frog and Toad series) or Helen Oxenbury (Tom and Pippo books). And no, neither of them are still included in my favorites. I can safely say I completely outgrew them, although if I have children in the future I will definitely introduce them.

Who’s the most recent addition to your list of favorite authors, and why?
It just might be Beth Kephart. I very recently read her books Undercover and House of Dance and enjoyed them both so much. I love how she pauses, adds just another word or two, describes something ordinary so well that you can picture it perfectly in your mind.

If someone asked you who your favorite authors were right now, which authors would first pop out of your mouth? Are there any you’d add on a moment of further reflection?
Well I've already named some that would definitely "pop out," but a couple others come to mind now. Clare B. Dunkle, Lois Lowry, and Monica Furlong.

My memes never seem to be very exciting. :-(
I'll tag...gosh, it has to be six people?! *Tries to come up with people who haven't already been tagged.*
1. Chloe
2. Aella Siofra
3. Kayla
4. Stephanie
5. The Compulsive Reader
6. Maribeth Kayla

Phew, I did it. I think. Some of you have probably been tagged already.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Sky Inside

by Clare B. Dunkle

Martin’s birthday arrives along with signs of spring in the neighborhood; the speakers produce pleasant music that some of the older neighbors call “birdsong.” At thirteen, Martin feels he is too mature for the childish present his parents give him, an Alldog. Large or small, sleek or fuzzy—all the dogs you ever wanted rolled into one! Little does Martin know that his dog—christened “Chip”—will help him discover the mysteries that suddenly pop up. A strange packet is arriving at his father’s job, and Martin’s little sister, a Wonder Baby, is being sent off to a special school that Martin doesn’t get a good sense about.
But what can a young boy and his toy dog and do against the powerful adults and their highly sophisticated bots? But with Martin’s stubbornness and a dog that is a lot more than a toy, it might be a lot more than you think.

Somehow I was not at all apprehensive when I learned that Ms. Dunkle’s newest book would be sci-fi. I knew she could do it, and do it very well, and she did. Just as with her previous novels, The Sky Inside easily transports readers to another world, this is one that is both alien and familiar. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the Hollow Kingdom Trilogy or By These Ten Bones, I think just because this one was not quite as original a setting. With less romance and a bit more action than the author’s other books, The Sky Inside is appropriate and suited for younger children, but is very satisfying for older readers as well.

Look for the sequel coming in 2009, titled The Walls Have Eyes.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Meme for Two

Jordyn and Aella tagged both of us with a meme, and Book Brat tagged just Ink Mage. The rules for this one are:

  1. Pick up the nearest book.
  2. Open to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the next three sentences.
  5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged you once you’ve posted your three sentences.
The closest book to Ink Mage is Mary Hooper’s Newes from the Dead:
“Everyone in the room looked keenly at Dr. Petty’s face, watching for any shade of change upon it. He repeated the question once more, before shaking his head and concluding quietly, ‘She does not respond.’ Robert felt his heart fall.”
The closest book to Tyto Alba is Pirate Wars, by Kai Meyer:
“The ray bore him past a balustrade, barely a stone’s throw from the two mysterious figures. Griffin felt a prickling on his skin, a tickling and scratching, as there sometimes was over the deck of a ship when a mighty stroke of lightning came too close. Like an invisible explosion, the certainty flared in him that there were things happening on this balcony that would decide the fate of Aelenium, perhaps of the entire world.”
We’re so late in doing this, is there anyone left untagged?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Undercover

by Beth Kephart

Elisa Cantor sees the world very differently from other people, while the world sees her as a nobody. She is below her classmates’ radar, undercover. Only boys slide up and speak to her in low voices, asking her for a love poem they can give to their current romantic interest. The simple, undercover things most people don’t notice, like a leaf leaving a tree, the river, and the red coat of a fox against the snow inspire Elisa’s poems.
One boy for whom she has written poems for catches Elisa’s interest; Theo agrees that she’s one-of-a-kind, but he still seems to want to be friends with her. But with his jealous and mean-spirited girlfriend around, they can only meet at the frozen pond at night and skate.

Cyrano de Bergerac, ice-skating, friendship, and writing. Elisa’s story doesn’t focus on any one thing besides Elisa and her exploration of the world and who she is, and her growing confidence. The emotions, the scenery, and the characters are so beautifully described with Beth Kephart’s poetic writing that you just have to love it. From the summary, I did not think I would enjoy Ms. Kephart’s newest book, House of Dance, but now I am very much looking forward to reading it and will definitely check it out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Remembering Raquel

by Vivian Vande Velde

“It’s amazing how much dying can do for a girl’s popularity,” observes Vanessa Weiss, a classmate of the fifteen-year-old and recently deceased Raquel Falcone. Vanessa is one the many people whose distinct thoughts on death we hear. Other classmates, teachers, relatives, friends, witnesses to her death, an EMT, and a potential date also share the emotions they struggle with. Some feel guilt, others sorrow, most are shocked and confused and want to do something, but they don’t know what. Everyone wishes they had been nicer to her. One woman gives them a way to “commemorate and memorialize Raquel’s life.”

I read Remembering Raquel in about two sittings (it could have been one, but I was interrupted) and thought it is probably the deepest of Vivian Vande Velde’s work yet. Even if this short book, she managed to give an unusual look at the impact death—especially an unexpected one—can have on our lives.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Brontë & Dickens Challenge

I’ve officially entered my first challenge(s). Yay! Recently I’ve been into reading historic novels—mainly Jane Austen, but I want to expand my list of old books. So I’m joining Becky’s Brontë Sisters and Charles Dickens Mini-Challenges. The goal is to read and/or watch two books or movies by Dickens, and two by a Brontë. I plan on reading:

Jane Eyre
Villette
Bleak House

And since I’m fond of watching the movie adaptations either before or after reading the book (for comparison), I’m going to watch the 1985 miniseries of Bleak House. Of course, I might decide to read/watch MORE Dickens and Brontë, but for now I won’t bite off more than I can chew. ;-) Wish me luck!

Twisted Fairy Tale Challenge Complete

I’ve completed Enna Isilee’s Twisted Fairy Tale Challenge by reading:

Beast, by Donna Jo Napoli
A Curse Dark as Gold, by Elizabeth C. Bunce
The Swan Kingdom, by Zoë Marriott
The Swan Maiden, by Heather Tomlinson

I did read Cindy Ella, too, but couldn’t come up with enough to say about it to review it.

Thanks to Enna Isilee for hosting this challenge! I had a lot of fun with it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Swan Maiden

by Heather Tomlinson

Doucette is the youngest, overshadowed by her two beautiful sorceress sisters, who have the one thing Doucette has always longed for: a swan skin. She was born without one, her parents tell her, and will never have the chance to transform herself and soar through the sky with the wings of a swan. But then one day, while cleaning the house like a good chatelaine, she finds something with soft white feathers, edged in gray; Her swan skin. Betrayed by her parents and giddy with her new power, what effects will Doucette’s roiling emotions have on those closest to her, including herself?

The Swan Maiden, inspired by French fairytales, tells a simple, sweet, and lovely story. It only took me one day to read, and kept me entertained, although not on the edge of my seat with excitement. My only real complaint with this book was that the romance—especially at first—was very rushed and undeveloped. We see Doucette and Jaume together only three times before “he’s so kind” and “I’ve always admired you” turns into “let’s get married”! Fortunately the fairytale feel of the novel keeps it from seeming completely ridiculous.

Look for the author’s Aurelie: A Faerie Tale, coming September 2008.

Fourth book read for Enna-Isilee’s Twisted Fairy Tale Challenge.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Primavera

by Mary Jane Beaufrand

The youngest of the Pazzi children, and a girl without beauty, Flora is the forgotten one in the family. But she gardens and helps her Nonna in the kitchen and doesn’t mind. Too much. Being out of the way of politics, it’s not until the Pazzi fortune starts to dwindle that Flora begins to open her eyes to the issues around her, such as the Medici, an extremely ambitious rival family. Flora’s passage from innocent girl to indomitable young woman may be filled with danger, mystery, and murder, but small, insignificant people sometimes turn out to be the strongest and make the biggest difference. Flora—with the help of her friend Emilio—is determined to survive no matter what it takes.

I don’t feel like I can give a very accurate report because I think I would have enjoyed Primavera a lot more if I’d been in a different mood or state of mind when I began reading. It was good and entertaining, but I didn’t especially love it, and I’d definitely like to read more by Mary Jane Beaufrand, but I really don’t know what else to say; Nothing made it stand out in my mind, possibly because it had similarities to Daughter of Venice and The Falconer’s Knot and so wasn’t a hugely original setting in my mind.
Although a lot of places are rating this book for ages 9-12, I definitely would not suggest it to any nine-year-olds; there are several horrifying and bloody scenes that Flora witnesses.
For an interesting contrast, read Carolyn Meyer’s Duchessina.

Read and for my Royalty Rules Reading Challenge.