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Archive for August, 2007

This is the first book in the Companions Quartet and after finishing this one I can’t wait for the rest.  This is the story of a secret society whose role it is to protect the mythical creatures that humans have long thought to be extinct.  Enter Connie, a young girl sent to live with her eccentric Aunt Evelyn for having a weird affinity with animals that has caused problems at her previous schools.  But soon Connie discovers that she is not a freak of nature, but rather a gifted person who has the ability to speak with all mythical creatures and is known as a Universal Companion.  The only one of her kind in over 10 years, Connie is lauded as an omen of good things to come for the Society.  But of course evil must cast its shadow over her world, and Connie is soon forced to learn her skills quickly or risk the death and destruction of all she holds dear.  This is just the kind of story I would have drowned myself in growing up, and just the type of story I still love.  It has all manner of magical creatures including dragons, uncorns, even pegasi! If the rest of the books in the quartet are as good as this one, this series is sure to be a success!

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Ned has never been able to do magic in a world where literally everyone can do magic.  His Uncle Kelver, a very famous and influential mage, sends him to a school where Ned assumes he will finally get to learn magic.  But dark forces are at work and he discovers that children are being taken.  Then one day he is taken and he learns that everything he knows about his world is backwards.  Will he be able to save himself, his friends and his world? And does he want to?  This was a great fantasy book and at only 182 pages it is not the tombs that so many fantasy books have become in the wake of Harry and Eragon.  It reminded me a bit of Charlie Bone by Nimmo, but lighter and it is only one book, not a series.  I thoroughly enjoyed this view of magic (the kids don’t read though, their magic reads aloud to them which I think is bad)  and the cast of characters.  My favorite item: the goosehorn.  Read it and you’ll see what I mean.

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What appears to be just chick-lit turns out to be a story of an evil menace that must be destroyed (surrounded by the trappings of chick-lit).  That may sound negative, but I loved it.  It is the story of a woman, Eve, who leaves her boyfriend to make him realize what she is worth.  That turns out like you would expect and so suddenly she finds herself living on an island and hanging out with two great friends (one of whom is a witch) and a devastatingly handsome man.  Things are going along swimmingly until horrible things start happening on the island and the three friends realize that they are the ones that must deal with it.  Suffice it to say, things get a bit messy, but it is chick-lit so you can guess how it turns out in the end.  It reminded me a bit of Nora Roberts Three Sisters Island Trilogy. 

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This is the final book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet, but not the last we see of Alanna and her friends in Pierce’s writings (happily).  After spending a year in the desert, Alanna learns of a wonderful adventure concerning a mythical object.  She goes on a journey to find the Dominion Jewel, meeting several interesting characters who come into play in later books along the way.  The story comes full circle with Alanna back in Corus and ready to face what she should do with her life after going on adventures for the past few years.  This is a wonderful thrilling adventure tale with humor and strong female characters leading the way. 

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This is the third book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet.  In it, Alanna is now a knight and goes out seeking adventure.  She encounters more adventure than she realizes and becomes a shaman to the Behazir.  She does battle and learns what it really means to be a knight.  There is a falling out with her and Jonathan, the prince and her lover, which gives a romantic spark to the story.  It is a well crafted tale and sets that stage for the last book in the series while also being able to stand alone as a story in and of itself. 

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This is the second book in the Song of the Lioness Quartet and though I have read it before, I needed to read it again after having finished Beka Cooper to restore my faith in Pierce.  It is the story of Alanna who wants to be a knight so she masquerades as a boy to become one.  In this book, she meets the Goddess who favors her and learns that there will be more to her life than just being a knight.  The realm of Tortall is well crafted and Pierce depicts a rich, vibrant society peopled with three dimensional characters (my favorite is George).

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Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

This is Mieville’s first effort at a book for children/teens.  Unfortunately, it falls a bit flat.  The book has some interesting concepts (an army of umbrellas for one) but as I read it I kept thinking that a lot of the ideas were stolen from other books.  Upon starting the book (which takes an inordinately long time to get into) you think it is the story of Zanna who is the Schwazzy (chosen one) and that she must save UnLondon (Un Lun Dun) which is a place where all the garbage and castoffs of regular London go.  But it turns out the prophesies are all wrong and it is Zanna’s friend Deeba who ultimately must fight the Smog (yep you guessed a super intelligent build up of gasses and dirt).  Zanna meanwhile cannot remember anything about UnLondon and is blissfully living her life.  It is all a bit odd and not terribly well edited.  I liked some of the bits and pieces but when you put it together I just wanted to run away (but of course I couldn’t since it was for a book group and so I wanted to finish it so I could talk about it).  So save your time for something else.  Maybe try Atherton by Patrick Carman which has an interesting premise (about a world built like a top after Earth becomes too polluted to live on) and actually carries it off.

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