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YA Book Review: The Changelings

Oh. My.  Let me preface this by saying this book isn’t coming out till September 6, but that’s in plenty of time for Christmas.  Or Hanukkah.  Or any holiday that comes after September 6.  And you can pre-order it right now.

the changlelings

Because if you have a little who is intrigued by All Things Fairy, he or she is going to Love this book.  The Changelings has all the right elements to yank a middle-grade reader in and hold her there till the very satisfying end:  an unhappy young girl, a bratty little sister, a witch, and a whole slew of fairies–some good, some bad–but all with their own kinds of problems.  The cool thing is, even though the book is written for a certain age group, it never felt false or condescending, and that kept me reading as much as the action-packed story.

Izzy Doyle is pretty miserable.  Her family just moved to a new town–for the ninth time in her eleven years.  Needless to say, she has never really had any friends.  It doesn’t help that no matter where they go, Izzy never feels like she fits in.  All she has is her book of fairy tales, a tattered and well-loved book that she loses herself in whenever she’s feeling lonely.   Everton is their last stop, her parents tell her.  They’ve inherited her grandmother’s house and they will be staying.  But the cashier at the local grocery store swears Izzy’s new next-door neighbor is a witch.  And one morning, her little sister, Hen, hears a flute in the woods.  And she follows the sound.  And Izzy finds herself on the witch’s heels in the middle of a strange forest.  She meets a boulder who turns out to be a boy.  After rescuing him from dangerous pursuers called Unglers, she follows him back to his home tree, where she meets a stoat who is also a boy and a butterfly who is a translucent girl.  The rag tag team sets off to find Hen, who has been captured by Good Peter the Piper.  The changelings are confused by this, because Peter always leaves a changeling in its place when he takes a human, but no changeling was left for Hen.

Throughout their adventure, Izzy keeps hearing about the new queen of Fairy, a queen the changelings do not trust, a queen who has been collecting changelings for years for some purpose no one understands.  The unglers are her pets, creatures that sniff out changelings and deliver them to the queen.  Good Peter, who has not been so good lately, is also working for the queen.  How in Fairy are they supposed to rescue Hen from such a powerful group of enemies?  And what will happen if they get caught?

Watching Izzy grow from a sullen child to a quick-thinking, caring individual is a lot of fun.  Perhaps even more, the world Christina Soontornvat has created from the fey is real and intriguing.  It’s been a long time since I read a book with fairies in it and wanted to finish it.  Oftentimes the whole idea is trite.  Not so with The Changlelings.  The voice reminded me a whole lot of Emily Rodda’s The Key to Rondo (and if you haven’t had the pleasure, read that one soon, too).  I love when a good writer pens a middle grade book that speaks intelligently to the age group she is targeting.  Nothing more irritating than an author talking down to her audience.  Soontornvat never does that, and that is part of what makes this gem of a novel so good.

My suggestion is, when you buy this book for your little, get a hard copy.  This one is going to be loved and probably read over and over, so give your little the tangible book to hold onto.  That’s the best kind.

Love wins,

KT

This post is linked to Literary Musings Monday Blog Hop

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YA Book Review: Flawed

Ah, Dystopia, who art like Heaven…

Listen, you know I’m obsessed.  I will read anything you put in front of me, even the ingredients on a shampoo bottle, but there is nothing quite like a well-written dystopian novel.  Political theory has been my favorite since waaaay back in 1995 when I studied it (perhaps more extensively than anyone should) in college.  I do so love thinking about, learning about, and reading about all the ways we humans can go and f*** things up for ourselves.

flawed

First of all, let me warn you:  This extraordinary book isn’t out until April 5, but it’s totally available for pre-order on Amazon.  Which would be just fine if I wasn’t already clamoring for the second book.  But I bet that one is still resting on Ms. Ahern’s computer, suffering through editing.  I bet it’ll be a year before the next book is released.  Boo.

.

In Celestine North’s scary society of the future, a Guild has been created that punishes people who are considered Flawed.  These are not lawbreakers, but people who have made bad decisions, threatened society with their poor judgment.  Flawed people are branded–no, literally–according to their flaw.  The temple for bad decisions, the palm for stealing from society, the sole of the foot for stepping out of line with society, for disloyalty-above the heart, for lying-the tongue. ( Eww.  That one sounds particularly painful.)  Originally, the Guild was set up as a public inquiry into government wrongdoing, but it became a permanent moral court affecting everyone.  Celestine is a big believer in the Guild and all it stands for.  She strives to be perfect.  She is dating the son of the Guild’s head judge.  She is a straight A student.  She Never Does Anything Wrong.

And then her neighbor is dragged away to be tried for being Flawed.  Celestine has never personally known a Flawed person before, and it changes everything.  Like everyone else, she used to just ignore the Flawed.  They were the very dregs of society, not to be looked at, touched, or helped.  Because the punishment for aiding a Flawed was to become Flawed yourself.  Celestine would never have considered it.  Until one day an old man starts coughing on a bus.

This book is full of all the things I love about dystopia.  A naive young girl who thinks the rules are for the best.  A nasty leader who is more interested in power and control than what’s really good for people.  An intriguing boy who shows up out of nowhere and catches our interest.  Friends who should be enemies and enemies who should be friends.  And action?  Yeah, pretty much from the very beginning of the book.  I don’t think my heart stopped pounding for about 150 pages.  And then it was only for a minute or two.

My only beef is that I was a little afraid it was being set up for a love triangle.  You know, the kind Meyer made so popular with that whole Edward and Jacob thing that was stupid and insulting to girls then and is now so worn out it should be put to pasture.  I hate that conflict and I think it’s trite.  Like “Oh, look at us flighty females… We can’t decide who we love, it’s just so haaard, and we’re so weak and disloyal.”

Yeah.  That one really makes me mad.  So my fingers are crossed that no such thing will appear in the second book.  Because after the first 10 times that happened in a series, I literally quit reading the books once it reared its ugly head.  Ugh.  Grrr. Other noises.

That was my only issue, though.  Otherwise, Flawed is a tightly-packed, very well-written dystopian adventure of the highest order.

I got to read it before you do. haha

Love wins,

KT

 

YA Book Review: Blood Sigil

blood sigil

Remember 2 weeks ago when I praised The Fifth Vertex, the first book in Kevin Hoffman’s series The Sigilord Chronicles?  And how I said that what I expected from the cover was not what I got, but what I got was an amazing and tightly-written story that stuck with me?

Well, I finally got to read the second installment, Blood Sigil, and let me tell you, this series is the stuff.  In this chapter of Urus’s story we meet even more interesting characters, and the characters we already knew grow by leaps and bounds.  See, Urus has discovered his power but he still isn’t quite sure how to use it.  Unfortunately, the fate of the  multiverse depends on him getting it together.  Enter Luce, the beautiful girl from another universe who knows how to use sigils and can teach Urus a thing or two.  As long as they can stay alive long enough for him to learn.  Because another sigilord has been found on Urus’s home planet and it’s up to Urus and Luce to rescue him before the arbiters find him and put him to death.  Cailix is still searching for Anderis in order to exact her revenge, and Anderis is giving her ever more reasons to seek vengeance.  Murin spends most of the book searching for Urus and finds, instead, monsters from Hell.   Literally.  When they all come back together in the end, the battle is explosive.

The really cool thing about this particular book is that it has even more depth than the first.  I don’t know if Hoffman planned it that way or if his writing is just improving with practice, as that of all authors does.  As I read this exciting adventure, I was often struck by how much More I was getting from the story, how much deeper into the science behind the multiverse and time-and-space travel I fell, how much stronger each of the characters seemed.  Don’t get me wrong, that is not to take anything at all from the first book.  The first book was incredible.  It’s just that it doesn’t often happen that the second book in a series excels above and beyond the first.

The best part?  The truth about Murin–that strange, mysterious, cryptic man who led Urus into all this to begin with–who and what he is knocked me straight off my feet.   I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so hard while reading a book.  Hoffman did an excellent job of keeping that truth from the reader until it was exposed, all the while leaving very subtle hints that made it all seem perfectly probable.  Skills, people.  Hoffman has them.

All I can say, Kevin Hoffman, is please don’t make me wait another year to see how this all plays out.  I am all impatience and anticipation.

If you have a little who loves adventure, fantasy, and a little bit of sci-fi, this is the story for him or her.  If you want to teach your littles about strong character and plot development, this series will give you loads to work with.  Plus, it’s just plain fun.

Happy reading!

Love wins,

KT

 

YA Book Review: Paperglass by A.R. Ivanovich

01-19-2016

Paperglass by A.R. Ivanovich

Paperglass is the second installment of The War of Princes series by Ivanovich.  Yeah, I reviewed the first one last week, but I am binge-reading this shit, so you’re going to hear all about it.  These books are incredible.  You know how sometimes you read the first book in the series and then the next one isn’t quite as good and it just gets worse from there?  These are so not those books.  They actually get better as you go, like The Hunger Games (books, not films-the reverse is true with the films) or the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield.  Paperglass is even faster-paced than Haven, and the danger was more palpable since I already knew the dangers of the Outside world.  Can I just say my heart pounded nearly the entire time I was reading because I was well aware the whole time of the tightrope Katelyn was walking?  How often do you get that from a book?!  Only when it is done extremely well, and Ivanovich has the stuff.

In this chapter of Katelyn’s story, Haven has been threatened and Katelyn has no choice but to venture back Outside in order to prevent a catastrophe.  Rune and Dylan are both back to make her life complicated, albeit in different ways.  I love Dylan’s character–the reader is never any more sure about him than Katelyn is.  He’s superbly imagined and written.  You couldn’t ask for a better herring.  Katelyn’s love life follows an obvious but important thread, too, and you have to cheer about it because it never gets trite.  Her mission to protect Haven is tangled by meeting the Margrave (a high power in the Outside army) and brushes with the Prince of Shadows.  Ivanovich’s world is believable, lush, and complex, and her characters are the same.  You can’t ask for more than that in a fantasy for any age.

Like last week, if I give you too much I’m giving away the story.  Buy these books.  They’re relatively cheap for your Kindle, and you will not regret it.  I’m in the middle of the third installment now, so I’ll let you know next week if the series continues to rock.  (Here’s a hint–Hell yeah, it does.)

Love wins,

KT

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