This book was *so* creepy, but so well done. Imagine Stepford wives drawn, by magic, from the bodies of seals. The basic storyline is that the men of Rollrock Island hire a witch named Miskaella who uses her magic “make” them wives from the seals who visit their beach. Once the woman has been drawn out of the seal, her husband only needs to keep her seal skin hidden away so that she cannot leave. The seal-women are beautiful and obedient, but they desperately miss their lives and families in the sea. The human-born women all leave the island in disgust, but the men don’t seem to be phased because they would rather have the beautiful creatures who bow to their every whim. I loved how the story was told from the perspectives of multiple people, including Miskaella herself. Not quite as dark as Tender Morsels, but a dark tale nonetheless.
First of all, I just have to say that I read this book a few years ago and only now realized that I never reviewed it… Shame on me! Second, I feel compelled to tell you all how much I love the complete/crazy-long title of this book — Princess Ben: Being a Wholly Truthful Account of Her Various Discoveries and Misadventures, Recounted to the Best of Her Recollection, in Four Parts — which is a lot! It has such a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Seriously, though, I think it helps to set the tone for the book. Because this is not your typical princess story!
It is true that Princess Ben (short for Benevolence) has been hidden away in a tower by her overbearing aunt, Queen Sophia, since her parents and her uncle (the king) were assassinated. Queen Sophia has plans to marry Ben off to the first mildly suitable man to present himself, but Ben is not the kind of princess who would be content to wait for a prince to come to her rescue. Thanks to her inquisitive/mischievous nature, she manages to find an enchanted room in the tower and begins to teach herself some magic with the books therein. Not only does this magic give her something to do with all of her “free” time, but it also buys her some freedom and increases the odds that she will be able to save both herself and the kingdom from Queen Sophia.
P.S. If you like this story, I also recommend the sequel — Wisdom’s Kiss: A Thrilling and Romantic Adventure Incorporating Magic, Villainy, and a Cat.
Although I don’t generally “do” the whole Twitter thing, I technically have an account through which I [supposedly] follow a few people. One of those people is the amazing John Green and, because I actually read one of my Twitter digests last month, I read this Tweet. Though I hadn’t previously heard about this book, I trusted John Green to know what he was talking about and requested a copy from another library in my system. I absolutely loved it, so I made sure to order a copy for my library AND bumped this book to the top of my “to review” list. FYI, in case you were not aware, I am way better at reading books than following through with reviews, so my “to review” list contains no fewer than 5 books at any given time and often has books that I finished months ago!
You may be wondering, “What was so great about Poison?” How about the fact that it had action, adventure, humor, magic, romance, AND strong female characters all rolled up into a unique fantasy story? Kyra, a potions master, used to be best friends with the princess. Until, that is, she tried to kill her. Since no one seemed to understand that trying to kill the princess was a good thing, she had to run away to avoid being jailed/hanged for the attempted assassination. And, while being the infamous “Princess Killer” made it rather difficult for Kyra to travel through the kingdom unnoticed, her bag of potions and the help of a cute little enchanted pig was enough to give her hope that she could find the princess and finish the job before it was too late…
The only thing I didn’t like about this story, to be honest, was learning that there won’t be a prequel or a sequel [since the author passed away before this book was even published]. I wish I could learn more about Kyra, but I guess it’s better to have loved and lost [a character] than never to have loved at all.
Victor Frankenstein and his twin brother, Konrad, have shared in many adventures with their cousin, Elizabeth, and their friend, Henry. On one such adventure, they discovered the the Dark Library — filled with ancient books about dark magic and alchemy. When their father found out, he forbade them from entering the library again. After Konrad fell ill with an unidentified malady that the doctors’ treatments and medicines could not cure, nevertheless, Victor decided to seek an ancient remedy in the books of the Dark Library. Full of action, adventure, and mystery, this back-story to Shelley’s Frankenstein is a gothic thriller that will probably even appeal to reluctant readers.
Not only does this book continue the fantastic Cinder storyline, but it adds a few new characters into the mix! The title character, Scarlet Benoit, is a teenage girl who has been raised by her grandmother on a small vegetable farm in Rieux, France. Her grandmother recently went missing, and while Scarlet is sure something must be very wrong for her grandmother to have left home without her portscreen [or even her ID chip], no one else seems very worried at all. Michelle Benoit is a kind and beloved, albeit eccentric, farmer who has no known enemies [as far as Scarlet believes, anyhow]. And because there is not any evidence of foul play, the police claim they have no choice but to dismiss the case. Scarlet is pretty sure a street fighter named Wolf knows something that could help but, though she is inexplicably drawn to him, she isn’t sure if she can bring herself to trust him. I can’t really say any more without spoiling it, but trust me when I say that this series just keeps getting better! And, since The Lunar Chronicles will have at least two more installments — Cress is due out in 2014 and Winter is due out in 2015 — fans have plenty more to look forward to before the series ends.
There are a lot of series that have sequels/conclusions due out this year, but Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) is definitely the book I was most eager to read this January. And, to think, I didn’t even realize how much I enjoyed science fiction before I read Across the Universe! (Granted, this is not “hard core” science fiction, as my husband pointed out, but it counts well enough for me.) You all should know by now how much I hate spoilers, so:
If you’re still with me, I will assume you finished A Million Suns [how did I manage to NOT review that book?!?] and already know that Godspeed was orbiting Centauri-Earth. You know that some of the people aboard Godspeed don’t want to leave the ship and that Amy and Elder plan to bring along anyone who wants to make a go of life on the new planet. Things rarely go as smoothly as planned, so it was no surprise to me when the shuttle experienced a difficult landing and that the thawing of the Earthborns caused strife. Add that to the fact that there are pterodactyl-like animals and some sort of aliens attacking the new civilization, and you’ve got an action-packed story that won’t disappoint!
The small island of Thisby is really only known for one thing — the Scorpio Races they hold every November. Crazy, bloodthirsty horses called capaill uisce [sounded like "cah-pool ish-ka" in the audiobook] rise up from the sea, and the young men of Thisby do their best to capture them and train them for the races. Between the training and the actual race, many people die each year. So, when Puck Connolly [a girl!] decides to enter the race — with a normal horse, no less — people think she is crazy. But entering the race may be the only way to convince her brother not to move to the mainland, and the winnings might be the only way she can save her family home from foreclosure, so what choice does she have?
Because of a few books I suffered through in high school, I didn’t used to think I could enjoy historical fiction. Neither did I realize, apparently, that I liked steampunk — partly because I wasn’t even 100% sure what the label even meant when I first saw it used on librarian listservs. But, considering what a huge nerd I am for Firefly and how much I loved Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn series, it is apparent that I liked steampunk even before I realized it was classified as such! Luckily, I have some awesome teen readers who clue me in on the books they love and think I should be reading, too, because they’re why I finally got around to reading Leviathan. Thank goodness I listened, because this book was awesome! It’s just too bad that I somehow managed to forget to post a review about this book back when I read it [about 2 years ago]… Luckily, I have the ability to fix that oversight right now.
In this alternate history of World War I, the German forces [called Clankers] used steam-powered war machines like tanks and the Allied forces [called Darwinists] utilized living creatures as war machines. The Leviathan, for example, was an airship made from a living whale-like creature. Though it looked much like a Zeppelin, it was MUCH cooler because it depended on a complex ecosystem in which the waste-products of smaller organisms [living inside] to provide the helium-like substance that made it float. Add that to the fact that people were walking around inside the beast/ship, and it’s not hard to understand why a science geek like me was just as enthralled by the Darwinists’ creations as I was with the whole rest of the story! If you like action and adventure, and you’re not opposed to possibly learning something about world history, this is a book you should probably read. (Just be sure to check out the author’s note in which Westerfeld explains which events/facts were true to history and which he created for the sake of his story.)
When I read Unwind, I thought it was a stand-alone book. And, apparently, even Neal Shusterman didn’t originally intend for it to be a part of a trilogy. But then, he couldn’t get this world out of his head and decided to tell the rest of the story. I, for one, was thrilled when this book was announced and could hardly contain my excitement when it finally arrived on the library holds shelf! For anyone who is unfamiliar with the first story, though, I would recommend you quit reading this review and start reading that book.
Connor, Risa, and Lev are all alive and doing as well as can be expected. Sure, they lived through their time at Happy Jack Harvest Camp without being unwound, but that didn’t exactly give them back the lives they had before they were scheduled to be unwound. Lev, for instance, has permanent damage to his entire body because of the chemicals that were used to make him a “clapper” [before he changed his mind]. He now spends all of his time on house arrest or working with high-risk teens, to keep them from behaving badly enough that they will be sent to a harvest camp. Risa and Connor both got hurt in the explosion at Happy Jack, but ended up with very different results. Connor woke up with an arm that used to belong to a kid named Roland, but Risa was able to refuse a new spine and now requires a wheelchair. Though Connor has been presumed dead, he and Risa were actually saved by the ADR (Anti-Divisional Resistance) and taken to a place called the Graveyard. They are now helping to run things and doing the best they can to take care of the teens in this AWOL sanctuary.
With the addition of some new characters — an AWOL named Starkey, a tithe named Miracolina, and a “rewind” named Cam — this story goes beyond a mere sequel and delves even deeper into the moral implications of unwinding. I found this book to be absolutely fascinating and cannot wait until the third book is released. [UnSouled is scheduled for release next fall!]
Imagine a world where every child is assigned a darkbeast, a companion animal to which they are magically bound. When children misbehave, they are ordered to “take it” [the failing] to their darkbeast. The child and the darkbeast are tethered together with a leash, and the darkbeast magically absorbs that failing while absolving the child for their bad behavior. Sounds like a pretty cool system… Except for the part where the children, in order to become adults, have to murder their darkbeasts and offer them up in sacrifice to [the god] Bestius.
When it was Keara’s turn to kill her darkbeast, she couldn’t do it. Caw wasn’t just some annoying animal to her; he was her closest companion and she loved him. Rather than stay and face the harsh punishments dealt out by the Inquisitors who had been called to deal with her rebellion, though, Keara decided to run away from home. In addition to appreciating the message of staying true to yourself regardless of society’s expectations, I also loved the rich details about the people and the mythology of this fantasy world.