“Book of a Thousand Days” by Shannon Hale is a fun read that starts out simply and then increases interest like a snowball racing down the mountain. The potential for the story just gets bigger and bigger. Dashti becomes the maid of Lady Saren and trades her freedom for imprisonment with her lady in a tower. Why would a person do that? Honor, loyalty, duty, fear? You would have to read it to find out! It is written like a diary from Dashti’s perspective.
****I kept a diary when I was her (Dashti’s) age and some of the writing held the dramatic feelings of a teenager that can only come from being locked in a tower. Except I was never locked in a tower. I was just a little dramatic.
"Howl's Moving Castle" by Diana Wynne Jones is a lighthearted read for anyone of any age. With light humor it tells the story of Sophie who, as the book says, "has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate." It is a fun and entertaining book. While its not a page turner that can't be put down, its clever and a quick read.
“Song of the Sparrow” by Lisa Ann Sandell lured me in with the promise of Arthurian legend. Isn’t there something adventurous and universally appealing about Camelot and the knights of the round table? There have been many movies, books, plays and other works of art about these things but this book tells the story of Elaine of Ascolat and stems from the poem “The Lady of Shalott”.
The entire book is written in lyrical form, so it reads like one poem although it is more noticeable to the eye than in your mind. At first it irritated me a tiny bit to have so few words on each page, but I got used to it as I lost myself in what those words were saying. It doesn’t read in a line by line rhyme, so once you get going you it is essentially the same as reading a regular paragraph. So if you love poetry the idea might endear you and if you don’t love poetry you’ll find that you don’t notice after a dozen pages or so.
I found myself enjoying the story until it got to the part where Gwynivere was introduced. It was then that I remembered, once again, how much I dislike the whole Gwynivere/Lancelot/Arthur love triangle. Arthur deserves better. I am always furious with Lancelot and Gwynivere when I read it or see a movie about it. But I really enjoyed the character of Elaine of Ascolat.
“Inkheart” by Cornelia Funke is an extremely fun story about a man named Mortimer who has an unusual gift. When he reads out loud he can bring a book to life. Characters and items from books come out. The down side to this gift is that he can not control who or what comes out and usually something from his world, the real world gets sucked into the book at the same time. Mortimer has a daughter named Meggie who has grown up without her mother because when she was only three years old her father read the book “Inkheart” out loud and her mother was pulled into the book and several evil villains came into the real world in her place. Mortimer could not figure out a way to save his wife and from the time she vanished has not read a book aloud to his daughter. As his story unfolds he learns that not reading aloud isn’t enough to protect his daughter from the villains of “Inkheart”.
****This was a very fun read, it does have a lot of pages so it might not be a quick read, but it is worth the time in my opinion. This is book one of three books. The second book is “Inkspell” and the third is “Inkdeath“. The first book was made into a movie with Eliza Bennett playing Meggie and Brendan Fraser playing Mortimer.
All three books are available in a box set on Amazon.
“Messenger” by Lois Lowry is the last book that stemmed from “The Giver”. Once you’ve started down the path you need to read “The Giver”, “Gathering Blue” and then “Messenger” because its this last book that connects the dots from book 1 and 2.
“Messenger” is a story told from the perspective of Matty, a lovable character from “Gathering Blue”. Matty has made his own way, moved on from the harsh life he was born into. Having lived in a home where he wasn’t loved and in a community who brought out the worst in him he sees an opportunity to get out and he takes it. He has grown to a young man and lives with the Seer. He begins to develop a gift that surprises him and frightens him. As the story progresses he just barely begins to understand the gift before he is called upon to use it in a way he never imagined.
****So…its an interesting conclusion but I am left thinking of other ways to end the story and wondering about what happened to some characters. Read it and see what you think of the ending!
“Gathering Blue” by Lois Lowry is intended to be a companion to “The Giver”, but it really has an entirely different feel about it. While “The Giver” dealt with a future of order, “Gathering Blue” describes a future of chaos and of regression instead of progression. It details survival of the fittest, every man for himself, pressure and strain to meet the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. In this book the main character, Kira, becomes an orphan and is in danger of being cast out as a burden to her community. Intervention saves her and places her in a position of privilege. But those privileges come with strings attached and those strings can become shackles.
***I felt a little adrift as I read this because I was expecting more of a flowing connection from “The Giver”, it isn’t until almost the end when you see any connection to the first book. By the end I felt like I needed to read the third book to see if all the pieces came together in the end, and they do. The next book is called “Messenger”.
(I’m having a hard time categorizing this book because it walks the line of fantasy and science fiction so I’ll just classify it as both.)
“The Fall” is the first book in the series by Garth Nix called The Seventh Tower. The series follows two main characters who are from very different societies living in a world where the sun has been blocked out by a Veil. The two distinctly different societies are mostly ignorant of each other, with the exception of a few of the older and more powerful among them. Tal is a Chosen and Milla is an Icecarl and they find their destinies colliding and the truth about their world sets an old war in motion again.
The Chosen who live in the Castle have their natural shadows taken from them as babies and are given shadow guards that come from the world of shadows in Aenir. The shadow guards have the responsibility to protect their master. The Icecarls live on the ice far below the castle and they are more primitive. They are a society that places honor above all else, and they fear magical shadows and curse those who have them.
****This was a fun adventure series to read. There are many YA books that I’ve read that I approve of for adults and some that I don’t know if I would want my teenager (when I have a teenager someday) to read; because some of the material is maybe a little more grown-up, even though it is clean. These books I could easily recommend to anyone who would be interested in them…preteens and up.
1. The Fall
2. Castle 3. Aenir
4. Above the Veil 5. Into Battle
6. The Violet Keystone
“Spinners” by Donna Jo Napoli is a re-telling of the fairy tale about Rumpelstiltskin. The classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale is a story about a greedy miller who boasts of his daughter’s spinning skills and then lies, saying she can spin straw into gold. The king hears this and sends for her, demanding that she spin a room full of straw into gold. Do you remember this story? You might think you know it but I think its not a complete story without the telling done by this author, Donna Jo Napoli.
Where did Rumpelstiltskin get his name? Where did he come from? Why did he want the first child of the miller’s daughter? Who is this miller who puts his daughter in danger by boasting so much and exaggerating her abilities? There is so much more to the story and reading this book will have you considering the details. This actually made me consider this fairy tale again and think about the lessons it serves up on a platter. Lessons about love lost, betrayal, greed, and the ultimate price of revenge.
*****I’ve read a couple of books by this author now. I reviewed “Zel” which is the re-telling of the fairy tale about Rapunzel. If you love fairy tales or even if you haven’t seen the beauty in them yet, you could enjoy this book. I like the way Donna Jo Napoli causes me to think beyond the parts of the tale I knew and to consider all the characters individually. At 197 pages, its not too long and its a quick read that I enjoyed.
“Graceling” by Kristin Cashore is an exciting story that I didn’t want to put down! It tells the story of Katsa, a girl warrior who is used by her king to bring justice to those who oppose him in any way. Katsa is a “graceling” which means she is marked by her eyes being two different colors and having an extraordinary ability that others don’t. There are many graces, some are graced with speed, some with the ability to read minds, some with extreme skill in sword fighting and many others. Katsa’s ability seems to be a grace at killing and she has been commanded to use her abilities for that purpose in the king’s name. But Katsa’s resentment at being under someone else’s control is growing, as well as her disgust at what her gift is used for.
Katsa has known this grace since she was a child and has had to deal with being feared and isolated because of it. She has been pushed into her current position but never saw a different choice for herself. To have control of it and to choose to use it for the protection of good people and good causes is something she hopes for but hardly dares to believe in. Things are complicated for Katsa as she learns who to trust, when to fight, how to love and what she is truly graced with.
*****This book is so great! There is a beautiful love story, intriguing plots of kings, tales of sabotage and suspense. I really enjoyed it and when I finished I ran to my computer to write this and verify that there’s a sequel. There is a second book called “Fire” that I haven’t read yet but am definitely going to! I learned that there will be a third book in the series that has not come out yet, so that means there is more to look forward to. If you enjoy Tamora Pierce’s books you should thoroughly enjoy this.
“Full Moon” by Rachel Hawthorne is book 2 in the Dark Guardian series. The first book was written from Kayla’s perspective and this book is written from Lindsey’s perspective. Lindsey is Kayla’s closest friend, but they’ve only known each other for a year. Although Kayla and Lindsey confided pretty much everything to each other throughout the year after they met, there was a little something that Lindsey left out. Of course she wasn’t permitted to tell her yet and how do you really slip it into conversation naturally. ”Did I ever tell you that I am going to be able to shift back and forth between wolf and human this summer?”
Lindsey’s life is a bit complicated. Her soul mate has been selected for her by her parents and up until very recently she was okay with that. But she is going to have to make the decision very soon and it could very well become a life or death decision for more than one person.
****A good follow up to book 1. I enjoyed having the switch from Kayla’s perspective to Lindsey’s. And each of the four books in the series switches like that. This book pushes right into book 3 because Lindsey has been friends with Brittany her whole life and Lindsey’s choices are driving a wedge between them. Book 3 entitled “Dark of the Moon” is from Brittany’s perspective.