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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blasts from the Past (#1) Fire Bringer

Fire Bringer
by David Clement-Davies

Publish Date: August 2007
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Pages: 512

Rannoch is born to a time when the herd is being subjected to a tyrannical rule, where the new Lord of the Herd will do anything to stay in power, even if that means killing anyone in his path. So, when Rannoch comes into the world with an oak-leaf shaped fawn-mark upon his brow, his foster mother fears for him. The mark is spoken of in an ancient prophecy, and the one who bears it will be a king. His foster mother knows that the Lord of the Herd would attempt to rid this new threat to his rule.

So, begins Rannoch’s journeys. As he grows up roaming between different places, trying to find where he can be safe, Rannoch encounters many tests of character and morals. He comes face-to-face with true evils like ignorance and prejudice. The prophecy unfolds, and Rannoch must live up to his destiny, or the Herla (deer) will fall into darkness.

Although the form the characters take—deer—may seem unlikely for such a tale, the author does an outstanding job keeping them deer-like while at the same time easy for the reader to connect to, much the same as with human characters. The many characters have a depth of character that make them seem very real, and Rannoch, the main character is as believable as he is unique.

The author’s writing style is a pleasure to read, as it is reminiscent of epic stories and ancient legends. An air of mysteriousness hangs around the plot even though what is going on is never really a problem to understand. What was really intriguing, though, was how the novel seemed to be reflecting upon our own world. Aspects of human nature, such as fanatic group mentality and power-hungriness are explored, and the ills of our own world unfold in this excellent tale.

[Note: This book is a bit older, but it's an excellent read! I'll post reviews of some older books that you might not have read before. :) ]

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

About the Pause in Posts

Sorry about the recent pauses in posting, I've been super busy with school and a hectic schedule. I'll get it started right back up next week with some new reviews!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fire by Kristin Cashore


by Kristin Cashore

Release Date: October 5, 2009

Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)

Pages: 400

For Fire, reading minds and controlling them is as regular as breathing comes to others. Her name comes from her flame-colored hair that is a result of her being a “monster,” the term for animals normal in all but color in the kingdom known as the Dells. Fire lives in a time where civil war is imminent and the king struggles to stay on the throne. As those loyal to the king race to attempt to stop war in its tracks before it strikes, Fire’s potential to help attracts the royal family’s attention...but Fire has problems of her own.

Fire’s extraordinary beauty and status as a monster make her stand out and many people either hate or love her too much. Between trying to divert attacks on her person and fending off overzealous men, Fire has to decide whether or not she should use her mental powers in the service of the royal family. Her father was also a monster and used his powers for his own pleasure, often hurting others. Fire’s strong feelings against harming others with her power leaves her torn in deciding whether she should use her abilities for interrogation as her duty to her country. Fire desperately tries to distance herself from any connection she might have to her father, which causes her to be in quite the moral quandary in making decisions. Her quest to find her own identity is subtle and goes hand-in-hand with her facing up to the truth of her past and eventual reconciliation with it.

Throughout the novel, the author weaves in snippets of Fire’s past, gradually revealing the truth about her father and his importance in the Dell’s history as well as Fire’s own. It symbolizes Fire’s own journey in discovering who she really is and to really embrace her identity, growing into true adulthood. True to the saying that “actions speak louder than words,” the author does a wonderful job of allowing Fire’s interactions with supporting characters to develop Fire’s character steadily throughout the book until it’s really hard to think of her as anything but a real, living person.

Of course, Fire, like any other novel, contains romance. Fire’s love life is an exceptionally turbulent one. A childhood friend desperately wants her hand in marriage, but Fire declines every time, wishing their relationship to stay as very good friends. However, Fire meets Prince Brigan, and everything about their interactions show that they’re incredibly incompatible. But, Kristin Cashore’s way with subtlety allows a very believable romance to develop between them. It’s this kind of careful, deliberate development in the whole work that allows Fire to be an exceptional read, full of intricate plot elements and conflicts, strong characters, and just a wonderful writing style.

With regards to it being the prequel of Graceling and the second novel Kristin Cashore has written, Fire is an incredible book. It surpasses Graceling, which is quite astonishing, as Graceling is quite the read as well. Kristin Cashore has really outdone herself with Fire, and anyone, not even fantasy fans, should really appreciate this extraordinary novel.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Navel of the World by PJ Hoover

The Navel of the World
by PJ Hoover

Release Date: October 12, 2009
Publisher: Children's Brains are Yummy Books
Pages: 312

Starting up a couple months after where The Emerald Tablet ends, The Navel of the World follows Benjamin and his friends as they try to find Benjamin’s long-lost brothers in order to basically, save the world. They are telegens, more advanced life forms than humans, with powers like telepathy and teleportation. Benjamin and his friends attend summer school for telegens in the hidden continent of Lemuria. They, however, stand out because they were picked by The Emerald Tablet in the previous book to save the failing shield surrounding Atlantis. The rival continent contains some bad seeds that try to use their powers to manipulate humans, making the shield preventing them from reaching the human world necessary.

The Navel of the World follows the same basic pattern as The Emerald Tablet. The protagonists are presented with a problem that is part of their quest to fix the shields surrounding Atlantis, this time finding more of Benjamin’s brothers, and through some coincidences, research, and problem-solving eventually come up with a solution. As the novel is aimed toward a younger audience, this works quite nicely and is easy to follow along. One minor flaw is that the author sometimes mentions various things, such as a course one of the characters takes “Empathy,” without explaining what exactly they are. Further references to these unclear “things,” for lack of a better word, provide small obstructions in the other wise easily understandable flow of the story.

One plot element that was particularly well done was that of time travel. Time travel in itself can be very confusing and complicated, but PJ Hoover does an excellent job making it comprehendible, so much so that most younger readers will not be left baffled.

As the plot thickens, so do the relationships between the group of friends. Budding romance and crushes between the protagonists meets some hitches along the way from newly introduced characters that are snagging the girls away from the boys. Although this does add something to the story overall, it seems a tiny bit out of place. The characters don’t quite act their age, sometimes seeming older and younger than they should be. In truth, I was I tiny bit surprised when I found out that they were supposed to be going into high school. I had thought of them a bit younger. However, the minor discrepancies and a few parts that seem a bit rushed don’t obstruct the major points of the story, and it is quite an enjoyable tale. Younger fantasy fans will enjoy this second part of “The Forgotten Worlds” series and look forward to the next installment.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Waiting on Wenesday (#3)

PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God by Frank Warren

Publisher: William Morrow
Pub. Date:
October 6, 2009

"About the Author

Frank Warren is a small business owner who started as a community art project. Since November 2004 Warren has received more than 150,000 anonymous postcards. The website won two Webby Awards in 2006 and this year was named Weblog of the Year at the Seventh Annual Weblog Awards. The PostSecret project also received a special award from the National Mental Health Association for raising awareness and funds for suicide prevention. Warren lives in Germantown, Maryland, with his wife and daughter."

Although this isn't a conventional book to read, the site where it comes from is great to surf around when you have a little spare time. It's awesome that this will be another book that will be published of these anonymous postcards that people send in with secrets . Sounds interesting, right?

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Max by James Patterson

by James Patterson

Release Date: September 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 309

Maximum Ride and her Flock aren’t completely human. That is, they’re a bunch of surprisingly successful genetic experiments. Part-avian, Part-human, one feature they all share in common is there wings. Apart from flying, each of them has a special ability, such as Angel’s telepathic powers. One of the main differences The Final Warning (Book 4) and Max (Book 5) have with the first three books is that Max and the Flock have gone public; they’re not running around trying to escape from various villains in secret. With connections to a new organization aimed at environmental protection. This time, the Flock is called in to investigate baffling incidences of masses of fish dying and ships being destroyed. They struggle through army protocol, random attacks by their newest mechanical enemies the M-Geeks, and strange encounters with the new super-villain, Mr. Chu, to try to figure out what is causing these new ecological problems.

Although James Patterson’s writing style is as fresh and inventive as ever, the plot line has really suffered some damage. After the first three books, I have to admit that I was surprised that there were going to be more. The fourth book (The Final Warning) just wasn’t on par with the first three and a left many loose ends. Max is quite a bit better, but just as the reader is starting to enjoy Max’s antics again, they come face to face with random plot devices that just don’t fit in. The plot leaves quite a lot to be desired. The ending also seems like a tad bit cheesy of a cliff hanger designed to stretch out the series. I’m making it sound worse than it is, but my point is just that Max might not be what most people expect after reading the first three books (The Angel Experiment, Schools Out—Forever, and Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports).

The strongest point of Max is James Patterson’s ability to write exactly as a spunky teenage girl should sound. Max is an incredible character who’s quips and snappy wit makes her a vibrant person. The rest of the Flock’s hilarious mannerisms and quirks brighten up the story and while Max might not be an extremely exceptional story, it’s still an enjoyable read.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (#2)

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Publisher: Penguin

Pub. Date: October 5, 2009

"She is the last of her kind...

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.

Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don't need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven't, you'll be dying to read it next."

This is the prequel to Graceling, which was fantastic! I definitely can't wait to read Kristin Cashore's new novel! This novel also has an amazing cover, don't you think?

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Emerald Tablet by P.J. Hoover

The Emerald Tablet
by P.J. Hoover

Release Date: October 21, 2008
Publisher: Blooming Tree Press
Pages: 288

“Benjamin and his best friend Andy love being different from the other kids. They like being able to read each others minds and use their telekinesis to play tricks. In fact, they are getting set to spend their entire summer doing just that when Benjamin s mirror starts talking. Suddenly, he’s looking at eight weeks of summer school someplace that can only be reached by a teleporter hidden in his hallway. And the summer only gets stranger.

At school, Benjamin discovers that he isn’t really human but something called a telegen. It turns out that the powers he always thought made him special only make him normal. But then the mysterious Emerald Tablet chooses him as its champion, and all chances of a uneventful (well, as uneventful as summer school on a hidden, submerged continent can be) disappears.” (blurb from The Emerald Tablet)

The Emerald Tablet is targeted towards a younger audience, ages 10 and up, and the writing style has been adjusted accordingly. Lemuria, the author’s secret continent, is introduced with many unusual features such as teleporters and magical maps. It is a creative backdrop for the story, along with the altered and hidden places on Earth. The fantastical theme is continued in the storyline. Benjamin, the main character, must find three “keys” to essentially save the world and humanity from enslavement. The author leads us through a wild romp with unpredictable twists and turns. There are quite a few red herrings, and at the end, there are some simply unbelievable turns of events. They seem to pop up literally out of nowhere, but they don’t ruin the story. A playful tale, I’d recommend The Emerald Tablet to younger readers searching for an enjoyable fantasy yarn.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (#1)

Hush, Hush by Beeca Fitzpatrick

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pub. Date: October 13, 2009

"For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life."

Does this book sound amazing?? And what a great cover! I can't wait for this to hit bookstores!

What are you looking forward to reading?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Specialists: Native Tongue by Shannon Greenland

The Specialists: Native Tongue
by Shannon Greenland

Release Date: July 31, 2008
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 237

“GiGi is back again and on a brand new mission in the fourth book in this original series!
Lovable GiGi is pairing up with expert linguist Darren, aka Parrot, on a mission to South America. When a centuries-old vase is found in a cave full of hieroglyphics, it is discovered that this vase was important to at least fifteen different North American and South American Indian tribes. And now all fifteen nations want it back. They are meeting in Rutina, South America, to "decide" who gets the vase. Enter the Specialists, and Parrot who will go as the official translator. And when no one can decode the ancient cave writings, not even the elders of each nation, GiGi comes to the rescue. Of course there's a hitch. One of the tribal chiefs attending the meeting in Rutina is connected to Parrot's past—in a very bad way. The question is, will Parrot be able to face his past and complete the mission, or will the vase—and the fate of the Native American nation—fall into the wrong hands?” (blurb from The Specialists: Native Tongue)

Although Native Tongue is the fourth in The Specialists series, it is still amazing as a standalone book. Short scattered explanations help the reader figure out what’s going on and who everyone is: a much less dull way than handing it out in one large serving. Essentially, the Specialists are a group of extremely smart teens who are hired to go on missions. They each have special areas of expertise, hence their name, The Specialists. Naturally, such talented youths have different quirks, and the main character, GiGi, is no exception. With a penchant for lollipops and a tendency to lapse into nerd speak, GiGi is just one in the cast of eccentric characters which provides a colorful and versatile medium for the author to work with. The plot itself is also quite interesting, an adventure still rooted in reality, making it easier for the reader to connect to as opposed to a deep fantasy story. The only weak point of Native Tongue is that some scenes and sequences seem a bit rushed. The whole book is crammed into 244 small pages, making it a quick read. I would recommend this story to those who like fast-paced easy-to-read adventures.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Devouring by Simon Holt

The Devouring by Simon Holt

Release Date: September 1, 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Pages: 240

“When Reggie finds an old journal and reads about the Vours, supernatural creatures who feast on fear and attack on the eve of the winter solstice, she assumes they are just the musings of some lunatic author. But soon, they become a terrifying reality when she begins to suspect that her timid younger brother might be one of their victims.

Risking her life and her sanity, Reggie enters a living nightmare to save the people she loves. Can she devour own her fears before they devour her?

Bone-chilling, terrifying, thrilling...what are you waiting for?” (Blurb from The Devouring)

At first glance, the “Vours” seem to be cheesy horror monsters invented to push the plot along. However, through careful development and downright creepy (in a good way) imagery, the author manages to turn them into believable creatures lurking in the shadows. The extraordinary development of the creatures also extends to the human characters. Regina “Reggie” the protagonist of the story grows steadily on the reader. Her fiery personality is just the right thing to combat the chilling evil of the monsters which have possessed her younger brother. She forges through disappointments and horrifying encounters to bring back her beloved little brother, Henry, when she stated quite ironically at the beginning that she would never act like a mother and carry out the duties of motherly care. The plot overall was quite good, but with the amazing character development, the book turned out to be a stellar read. I would definitely recommend The Devouring to anyone looking for a captivating and original story.

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A real fantasy lover (so if you'd like us to review your book and it's fantasy--send it to me, please!!!)! Science-fiction is a close second, (any Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans out there??) though!
Books aside, I love snacking on ice cream, but fortunately, I like running too--it helps burn all those calories! I'm also a fan of roller coasters, but I'm afraid those don't help much in the calorie burning department.

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aka Dominique from The Book Vault.



Welcome to our blog! We're the reviewing trio, Bettina, Natalie, and Dominique. You might know Dominique from The Book Vault or YA Books Central, where she was the teen reviewer a few years back! She has kindly agreed to help us out there, and post every so often. Don't forget to visit her site too!

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