Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Raven Cycle, Book #2

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What began as a story about a rich teen obsessed with the legend of a Welsh king has now become so layered that there truly is no main character- they are all essential. The Raven Boys was Gansey's book and the Dream Thieves belongs to Ronan.

Ronan, the edgy bad-boy who attends Aglionby Academy, is so much more than that. He has the ability to manifest anything he dreams into reality- a power his father also possessed.

Ronan is also a truly benevolent human being with a powerful set of values. Despite the pain he has endured in his life and the confusing abilities he is learning to control, his core is good. Ronan's exterior hides a lot of secrets- some of which are slyly revealed in this second volume of The Raven Cycle.

This volume also brings us closer to Maura, Calla, Persephone and all of the psychics at 300 Fox way.

We learn more about The Gray Man and find it a bit harder to despise him.

Adam uncovers the mystery of his sacrifice.

Blue honestly faces her feelings.

The magic is kicked up a notch in Dream Thieves inviting the reader into the world of dreams and the delicate balance that exists there.

This is another beautifully written Stiefvater novel with excellent character development and impeccable setting. I am very much looking forward to reading book 3, Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

Ages 14+.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Imagine a flu so powerful that 99% of the world's population is annihilated in weeks. Then, imagine surviving that.

Today, we live in a privileged, hyper-communicative, overdeveloped, technologically dependent society. So, what happens to that society when the power runs out and the infrastructure falls apart? What is left?

Survivors: People who, through sheer luck, manage to escape the plague and are left to pick up the pieces.

Station Eleven takes place both before and after a catastrophic pandemic- but it isn't really about the disease. It is concerned with the before and after. Station Eleven is a novel dealing with people and how their actions define who they are. It is about choosing to be humane in a world that has almost lost humanity.

More specifically, Station Eleven is about a circle of people whose lives are unknowingly intertwined both before and after.

This novel left me feeling invested. Brava Emily St. John Mandel.

Suggested for ages 15+. Written for adults.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Guardian of Tarnec, Book One, Lark Rising

Lark Rising (Guardians of Tarnec, #1)Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sandra Waugh's debut novel, Lark Rising, is a typical story of good versus evil, light versus dark. It is like a simplified Tolkien story complete with little people, a quest, and magical artifacts that impact the balance of the world. That being said, I found myself missing Lark and her companions when I wasn't reading their story. 

While I feel as if it is the kind of tale that has been told before, there was enough about it that was unique and endearing to keep me glued to the story. Waugh's writing is warm, full of imagery, and more approachable for teens than Tolkien and other adult fantasy series. Her characters are lovable, if a bit predictable. 

For those who love a good fantasy tale, Lark Rising beautifully fits the bill. I am looking forward to the books that follow.

Suggested for ages 11+.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Scorpio Races

The Scorpio RacesThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Scorpio Races is a gorgeous novel which is set on a fictitious Celtic Island, called Thisby, in what seems to be roughly 1917 or, at least, mid-suffrage-movement society.  Thisby is a small, close-knit island with a strong tourist industry based around its unique horses called the Capall Uisce (capul ishka).  The Capall Uisce are fantastical water horses that migrate out of the sea and onto the Thisby beaches each winter.  They are strong, beautiful, fast and extremely carnivorous.  They will and have eaten men.

 Each year on Thisby the people hold Scorpio Races in which they ride and race on the Capall Uisce.  The races draw spectators from all over the world.  The races are always deadly.

Sean Kendrick has won the Scorpio Races four times.  Puck Connolly has not only never attended the races but both her parents were killed by Capall Uisce.  Sean Kendrick has a magical bond with the Water Horses.  Puck Connolly has never even ridden one.  Yet, this year, both Sean and Puck (Kate) will be riding in the races, each with their future happiness depending upon a win.

Stiefvater creates a rich and lovely world on Thisby.  Her characters are full and believable. Their lives are interesting and engaging.  This is an indisputable success for Maggie Stiefvater.

Recommended for ages 11+.