Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Waiting on Wednesday: Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel

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

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...


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)


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...


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