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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?