Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

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A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I needed something lite to read after finishing In the Woods. (worst book hangover ever!) I picked up Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children for three reasons:

1. It was spooky and perfect for October.

2. It promised to be a quick YA read.

3. I already had it on my shelf.

I liked it. The main characters were well developed. The setting was fantastically detailed, with the sunken ship being my personal favorite. It was a good story about the relationship between a grandfather and grandson, discovering personal strength, and embracing one’s differences. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was a solid young adult story with a fantastic setting. The story seamlessly jumps between 1943 and modern day. I personally loved how Rigg’s utilized old photographs to enhance the story. It was just good.

I don’t really have any complaints, though I would have preferred if this was a stand-alone novel. I enjoyed the setting and the characters but I didn’t turn that last page feeling invested enough to read the rest of the series. This is a personal issue I have with most young adult stories, and is the primary reason I steer clear of them. I just don’t want to dedicate my reading time to a YA series. I don’t have issues with adult series (I fully plan on reading all of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books). I just feel that most YA stories don’t necessarily need a full series…or that multiple books can be combined into one story….. I’m not out to start any arguments; YA series just aren’t my thing.

Anyway, I decided to watch the 2016 movie and I liked it as well. There are a number of changes, of course, to the characters and the latter half of the storyline, but I was totally ok with them. I felt the changes stayed true to the tone of Riggs story. I actually adored the end of the movie; it gave me the closure I was looking for in the book. Let me know what you thought of the book and/or movie!

November is here so the next month will be dedicated to reading all the Nonfiction and gritty murder mysteries. My tentative TBR will be up in a few days. Let me know if you have any suggested reads.

Lindsay

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In the Shadow of Blackbirds

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

by Cat Winters

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In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

I am not the type of person who typically buys a book because of the cover. Sure, I like pretty covers. Sure, I’ll pick one edition over another based on the cover. (I actually tend to prefer old used books that have that particular smell…anyways) But I do not buy books that I don’t find interesting, great cover or no. So, it may surprise you that I was drawn to In the Shadow of Blackbirds because of the cover. Thankfully, I was also intrigued by the paranormal historic mystery promised by the synopsis…but that cover! It is so beautifully haunting that I was going to read this book no matter what!

In the Shadow of Blackbirds tells the story of Mary Shelley Black, a bright young woman who must relocate to California after her father is arrested. But California in 1918 is a hard place for a 16 year old; surrounded by the devastating effects of Spanish Influenza, Mary Shelley learns upon arrival that something bad has happened to her childhood sweetheart who is serving in the Army in France. Surrounded by death, thanks to the flu epidemic and World War I, Mary Shelley must attempt to come to age while processing loss, dealing with frauds, and finding the truth in ghostly whispers.

Mary Shelley Black was a refreshing heroine!  The typical young adult female lead is drowned in teenage angst and plenty of insta-love, but Mary Shelley is a self aware, confident woman of science in an era where that behavior was socially frowned upon. She typically embraces her personality and quirks with little care of what others think. I adored how often she wore her aviator goggles, but loved even more that she wore them because she liked them….not to get a rise out of people, or to make a statement. Despite handling her situation in a stoic, mature fashion, Winters still manages to present a heroine who is both mature for her age but still a child. You don’t forget that Mary Shelley is only 16 years old, because she is still impulsive, as we see with the lightening storm and her decision to help wounded soldiers. She is a wonderful character; a girl who is willing to discover the truth, capable of following her gut instinct, but naïve enough to trust that people are inherently good despite all that she has been through.

I found the story fascinating, the paranormal aspects engaging, and was thrilled that Winters provided a brilliant standalone novel (instead of trying to force this story into a typical YA duology/trilogy), but I admit the most gripping aspect of In the Shadow of Blackbirds was the year, 1918. I need to read more historical fiction set during the Great War (World War I). Winters’ vivid descriptions of the affects of the Spanish Influenza outbreak, both in physical setting, such as when Mary Shelley comes across stacks of coffins and the constant wailing of ambulance sirens in the background, and in the mental toll on characters battling against an unseen killer, was to me more haunting than the actual haunting! (geez, sorry for the super long sentence guys) And I applaud Winters for her blunt, honest approach on shell shock. She deftly displays the period social reaction to shell shock, at the time a very misunderstood mental and physical reaction to trench warfare, without imparting modern judgement. Winters shows us young soldiers struggling to heal after the war. We hear stories of boys being left by love ones after they lost limbs. We are transported to the bloody mud of the trenches in France, feeling the concussion of artillery shake the ground. And the blackbirds…they may haunt my dreams as they did Stephen’s. Brilliant; her descriptions were absolutely immersive and plain brilliant!

I don’t really have any negative thoughts but will say the scenes involving the paranormal can be a tad jumpy and abrupt. I believe this is done intentionally to leave readers a tad unsettled; it works and it can make the book tough to read during long sessions. I also wasn’t a fan of Aunt Eva. She was just too frantic, and wasn’t as developed as Mary Shelley. The gritty details of her somewhat tragic life were there, but these points were overshadowed by her frantic and somewhat irrational response to events. I could tell there was so much more to her and would have loved to see that on the pages. Especially since deep-down Eva is a survivor. I can also see where some readers might complain about the lightening strike, writing it off as a fantastic and convenient plot tool It is but it was still well done, and I have no complaints.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds was fantastic, and the perfect read during the month of spooks! I dare say Winters’ may have restored my faith in young adult fiction…..no matter. I recommend it for those in need of a spooky read!

Do you have any other spooky young adult books I should check out? Have you read anything else by Cat Winters? Do you know where I can find a pair of vintage aviator goggles?!? Let me know, and happy spooky reading!

Lindsay

Daughter of the Pirate King

Daughter of the Pirate King

by Tricia Levenseller

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If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there’s only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who’s going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it’s down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?

I picked up Daughter of the Pirate King because I wanted a good young adult historical fiction novel about pirates. Guys, it is near impossible to find a young adult pirate book that doesn’t include time travel, magic, fairies…and so on. I don’t dislike fantasy stories, I actually enjoy the occasional fantasy read, but on this site I like to share books that fall into the nonfiction, historical fiction, or mystery genres. (I mean, even my mystery shares are typically also considered historical fiction) So, you can imagine how I felt like I had finally hit pay dirt after reading the above synopsis! Here was a young adult novel about pirates that was not a fantasy story….WRONG! Now, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book. I really liked Daughter of the Pirate King, but I felt you needed to be warned that this is a fantasy story, that is set in a fantasy world where magic exists.

However, I feel it should be noted Daughter of the Pirate King provides a relatable and somewhat accurate description of pirate culture. (Please note that I am not an expert on the history of piracy, though I have taken a few courses on the subject)  The scenes of debauchery when shore, the time stuck aboard ship, the superiority complexes, and even the tale of Alosa’s conception (yup, you read that correctly) are exquisitely detailed and developed in a rather realistic fashion embracing pirate culture and superstition. So, though I was disappointed at the magical element, I was happy with the rest of the book.

Ok, so I will start with the positive attributes of the story. I like how strong Alosa is. She is smart, witty, and confident in way most teenage, and even adult, females struggle to obtain. Her unwavering confidence in herself is the main reason she can successfully survive in a world dominated by men who are typically fueled by greed and self interest. I loved watching the plot unfold, even if it was a tad predictable at moments. Levenseller does a fantastic job depicting shipboard life, and I was happy with how she provided unique personalities to the men holding Alosa captive. And the relationship between Alosa and Riden was just fun, developing in a way that I found myself riveted to their story. And don’t worry guys; definitely no insta-love in Daughter of the Pirate King, which I feel we can all agree is a wonderful break of YA trope.

Now for a few negative points. Alosa is a strong, willful woman who also spends a good bit of the story being down right pigheaded. Some of her thoughts/comments/decisions left me rolling my eyes in shear annoyance. I am all about a character being flawed, but as I turned that last page, I was hit with the realization that Alosa hadn’t really learned any lessons about equality between men and women. Despite modern social standards, sexism isn’t just aimed at women, and Daughter of the Pirate King is full of rather extreme male sexism. I am hoping that this is rectified as the series progresses, because otherwise I will have to put this series down. Discriminating against someone because of their sex is plain sexism; it doesn’t matter if they are male or female. I also have to point out, that despite the blatant dude-bashing done by Alosa, she is the only fully developed female character in the story. Sure, we are introduced to a few of her all-female crew but I think maybe only one stood out from the rest….yep just one; the assassin. I feel the lack of development is only because Daughter of the Pirate King is Levenseller’s debut novel, and I expect both her plot and character development will only improve with time and experience.

In the end, I couldn’t put Daughter of the Pirate King down. I finished it over a weekend and it is the perfect read for those looking for a light, fun story to embrace the end of summer! I will be picking up the next story, Daughter of the Siren Queen, as soon as it comes out in 2018!

Have you read Daughter of the Pirate King? What are your thoughts? What books are your reading as summer ends?

Lindsay

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

by E.L. Konigsburg

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When suburban Claudia Kincaid decides to run away, she knows she doesn’t just want to run from somewhere, she wants to run to somewhere — to a place that is comfortable, beautiful, and, preferably, elegant. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along.

Once settled into the museum, Claudia and Jamie find themselves caught up in the mystery of an angel statue that the museum purchased at auction for a bargain price of $225. The statue is possibly an early work of the Renaissance master, Michelangelo, and therefore worth millions. Is it? Or isn’t it?

Claudia is determined to find out. Her quest leads her to Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the remarkable old woman who sold the statue, and to some equally remarkable discoveries about herself.

Today’s review is over what some may consider the solving of the most important mystery ever uncovered: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

I actually do not remember reading From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in school. But I vaguely knew the story and would catch myself thinking of it during daydreams, so I must have read it. Thankfully, I was reintroduced to the mystery while birthday shopping for my godson. I stumbled across it on the ‘Back-To-School’ book table at Barnes and Noble and walked out that day with a copy for each of us!

I am not going to share a summary of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The synopsis does a great job and I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun for new readers. I am; however, going to start with the one negative thought I have (might as well just get the pesky bugger out of the way). I can understand why some parents would hesitate to share this story with their kids thanks to the whole running away from home thing. I don’t have any advice for parents. I’m sure there is a way to share the brilliance of this story while also ensuring kids understand that it’s not ok to runaway from home. I’ll just leave it at that. Phew…not that that’s out of the way.

I LOVE From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Love it. I love the interactions between Claudia and Jamie. I I adored Jamie’s penny pinching and sympathized with Claudia’s search for something more. I recognize so much of myself in Claudia Kincaid. We share the same need for a good plan, the want of something unique out of life, and a deep love for the mysterious! I found myself desperate to discover the truth about Angel, and was honestly sad when I had to put the book down and deal with life things.

But there is so much more to From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler than my connection to Claudia. Konigsburg’s brilliance is found in the details of the mundane tasks of bathing, eating regular meals, and washing clothes. She took a fanciful adventure and made it realistic as the children go about ordinary lives in an extraordinary local. And the setting makes you feel as is you are wondering the museum halls hand in hand with the Kincaids. Her story teaches readers that dealing with mundane chores does not mean one has to live a mundane life and that constantly seeking knowledge is essential for a good adventure.

Museums, mystery…what’s not to love?!? From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a story worth revisiting year after year, for as Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler observed, you are never too young to experience and learn something new! And this story is the perfect way to remind yourself of that simple truth!

Please share your thoughts on From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! I look forward to hearing them.

Lindsay

Julie of the Wolves

Julie of the Wolves

by Jean Craighead George

Julie of the Wolves (Julie of the Wolves, #1)

Miyax, like many adolescents, is torn. But unlike most, her choices may determine whether she lives or dies. At 13, an orphan, and unhappily married, Miyax runs away from her husband’s parents’ home, hoping to reach San Francisco and her pen pal. But she becomes lost in the vast Alaskan tundra, with no food, no shelter, and no idea which is the way to safety. Now, more than ever, she must look hard at who she really is. Is she Miyax, Eskimo girl of the old ways? Or is she Julie (her “gussak”-white people-name), the modernized teenager who must mock the traditional customs? And when a pack of wolves begins to accept her into their community, Miyax must learn to think like a wolf as well. If she trusts her Eskimo instincts, will she stand a chance of surviving?

First school book is Julie of the Wolves! The story of adventure and survival is one I revisit over and over. Here is my original review I shared a few years ago!

Julie, also known as Miyax, is walking from Barrow, Alaska to Point Hope, Alaska.  She is alone on the Arctic tundra and is determined to get passage to San Francisco and a new life.  But she is lost and must rely on the teachings of her father and the help of a wolf pack to survive.  Julie adapts to life on the tundra but still struggles with her identity.  Is she Julie the Alaskan or Miyax the Inupiat?

I first read Julie of the Wolves when I was twelve years old.  I couldn’t put it down.  Here was a young girl (the same age as me) struggling to identify who she was (so was I!) all while surviving on the Alaska tundra.  Plus, she lived with wolves!  I don’t know about y’all, but my dreams at 12 included owning a huge horse ranch with my own pack of tamed wolves.  Yeah, this was the perfect book for me.  I loved it, but a post on The Misfortune of Knowing pushed me to read it again as an adult.  Plus, the story fit in perfectly with my arctic survival theme this month.  I couldn’t put it down!  My skin tingled with goose bumps and a single tear threatened to fall when I turned the last page.  I still love this book!

Now there are some issues with Julie of the Wolves.  The most notable is that it is marketed for 8-10 year olds but contains an attempted rape scene in Part Two.  Julie marries at 13 so she can go to high school.  Her husband, Daniel, has a learning disability but they are content acting like siblings until mocking at school pushes him to force himself on her.  The scene is not descriptive and all that really happens is Daniel rips her dress and pins her to the ground before his fear makes him run.  But, this is not something I would want to explain to an eight year old.  This one paragraph turns many readers away.  I don’t know if the attempted rape is a realistic event, but it fits with the culture and socio-economic issues that plague Julie’s world.

There are so many good lessons found in Julie of the Wolves.  Julie escapes domestic violence and manages to survive in one of the most extreme climates in the world.  She taught me that women could be strong, smart, and resourceful.  George shows the good and bad of all the cultures Julie is exposed to; the gussak (lower 48), the Inupiat, and the wolf.  She shows that it is prudent to hunt for food but wasteful to poach.  Julie learns that she must adapt to survive, both in the wild and in a village.  Julie of the Wolves teaches adaptation, survival, culture, and finding inner strength.  I definitely recommend it.  The good outweighs the bad.

Julie of the Wolves will always be special to me because of its influence on my youth.  What books influenced you during your preteen years?

Lindsay

My Lady Jane

My Lady Jane

by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

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The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

Sorry for the brief review hiatus everyone. I’ve been a little under the weather lately, which means much more reading and tv watching than reviewing. Anyways, I first heard about My Lady Jane from a number of BookTubers that I follow, and decided to give it a go for a couple of reasons: 1. historical fiction is a genere that is not often discussed on BookTube and I was surprised to see this novel keep popping up, and 2. everyone kept talking about how funny it was and I can’t say no to a good laugh!

So, a brief synopsis. My Lady Jane presents a very loosely historic recount of the life of Jane Grey and her limited term (9 days) as the queen of England. It’s definitely loosely historical as there is a magical element that definitely makes this a fantasy read as well. But don’t worry; the authors warn readers with a disclaimer on the very first page. 

Don’t let the fantasy element discourage you from reading My Lady Jane. The authors do a wonderful job of creating a detailed and engaging setting which left me feeling as I was running for my life along with the characters. The adventure is fast paced, but the love story of Jane and G progressed at a wonderfully realistic pace. No insta-love here folks, which I’m sure we will all find refreshing. And I absolutely adored our heroine, Jane. She is complicated, stubborn, passionate, awkward, and driven by her love of books. She is unapologetically herself! 

Now, I’ll reiterate that My Lady Jane is not historically accurate, but you are made aware of this point through out the story thanks to hilarious interjections by the narrator/authors. This gives it a fireside story telling atmosphere that more serious readers may not appreciate. I do also have to point out that many of the secondary characters and aspects of the plot felt a little under developed. This was  definitely evident when looking at G’s hobbies and the whole last quarter of the book. I would like to provide specific details, but I know y’all don’t like spoilers.

I heard a number of reviews describing this novel as hilarious. Did I find it hilarious? Yeah, it was pretty darn funny and had a delightfully honest tone that embraced teenage sexual awkwardness without all the tedious angst that is typical of young adult literature. It is fun, and very different which is why I recommend it for readers, especially those in need of a break from serious topics and prose.

Have you read My Lady Jane? Let me know what you thought!

Lindsay

The Diviners

The Diviners

by Libba Bray

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Do you believe there are ghosts and demons and Diviners among us?
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.
Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfurl in the city that never sleeps. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened….

Better late than never this week! It’s been a tad crazy lately, so I’m sorry this post didn’t make it up on Tuesday. But The Diviners it the perfect book to start off this creepy Halloween weekend!

Evie is destined to be a star, but is unfortunately stuck in small town Ohio. Until a small stunt leaves her in trouble and on the first train to her uncle’s in New York City. It’s not long before she is next deep investigating a series of murders that shock the city. But there is more to this murder, and Evie, and the young heroine must embrace her paranormal side to save the day. 

I enjoyed The Diviners! Evie is a relatable character with just enough moxy to make up for her flaws. The diverse cast of characters keep the plot moving at a fast pace and Bray expertly weaves these storylines together. I love how Bray makes you feel like you are standing in New York in the 1920s watching these events. The language, the clothing, the atmosphere; you get it all and it flows together seamlessly. The mystery was twisted and interesting and I was excited to see how the sacrificial stages would play out. The book is an enjoyable paranormal historical mystery and perfect for a lazy Halloween weekend. 

Surprisingly, the language is very telling and there are parts where the prose is essentially ‘and this happened.’ It didn’t make me dislike The Diviners, but I felt more showing language would have intensified the 1920s feel. It is also why the mystery just wasn’t scary for me on the same level that many others have mentioned. Otherwise, it was pretty good!

The end left me curious and needing to know more. So, I will definitely be picking up Lair of Dreams, the next book in the series. What spooky reads are you enjoying this weekend?

Happy Halloween!

Lindsay

The Realms of the Gods

The Realms of the Gods

by Tamora Pierce

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Daine and Numair are suddenly swept into the otherworldly home of the gods
after facing certain death on earth. But they cannot remain there for long,
because they are both needed to help fight the desparate battle raging in
Tortall. And so they undertake the dangerous journey back to earth…a journey
that will teach them a great deal about life and about each other, a journey
that will lead to the startling culmination of the conflicts, both mortal and
immortal, that have long plagued Tortall.

 Big changes are coming to Sand Between the Pages in the next week so I thought it was the perfect time to review a couple of my favorites. 

The Realms of the Gods is the fourth book in Tamora Pierce’s Immortals series. You can also check out my reviews of the first three novels: Wild Magic, Wolf-Speaker, and Emperor Mage. 

Stormwing Ozone has declared war on Tortall, leaving Daine, Numair, and their allies on the defensive. Daine and her mentor are pulled in to the realms of the gods by Daine’s parents during a losing battle. It is here Daine learns the goddess of chaos is backing Ozone’s fight. The pair must make it across the realms of the gods to the dragonlands and gain passage back home if they have any hope of stopping this war. 

Realms of the Gods is the exciting end of one of my all time favorite series! We are introduced to a new cast of characters (my favorite are the Darkings) and get to watch the development of old favorites. The settings are vibrant and colorfully written, and I like how we are just dropped with Diane in to this new world. And DRAGONS! The interactions with the adult dragons is the best but I won’t be sharing any more to avoid spoilers. As for the budding relationship between Daine and Numair….FINALLY! I shipped this before I even knew what a ship was. The two are perfect for each other and I love how Pierce gives them a very adult outlook on their future. This is rarely seen in young adult books, much less a book designed for preteens. 

I have a slight complaint about the pacing. I feel like readers are rushed through the majority of the book because we practically jump from setting to setting during the journey to the dragonlands. And then the pacing comes to a screeching halt when we come to that final battle. I just felt the novel should have been longer to even out the pacing. The only weird thing is the age difference between Daine and Numair. She is supposed to be sixteen years old while he is in his mid-thirties. Normally, big age differences do not bother me but this series is aimed at preteens and that made it a little awkward. I’ve always felt that Daine should have been a few years older than she is, which would have made the age gap less drastic. Don’t get me wrong; I adore the relationship between Numair and Daine! The age difference just made it a tad awkward is all. 

This is still a favorite series of mine, and I may end up rereading it, again, before the end of the year. I adore the world Pierce has built and I still connect with Daine years later. What is your favorite Tamora Pierce novel?

Lindsay

Goose Girl

Goose Girl

by Shannon Hale

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Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt’s guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani’s journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.

Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

Goose Girl is a pre-teen high fiction story about how a young princess survives a mutiny and discovers her own hidden strengths. High fantasy was my favorite genre as a pre-teen. There is just something about magic and adventure that helps you get through that awkward stage of life, and Goose Girl is perfect as it details Princess Ani’s coming-of-age journey. It is a well-constructed debut novel; Hale provides extensive main character and plot development while also delivering all those ‘how to live’ morals every young reader needs.

I like Ani. She wasn’t the typical independent, strong female or the head-over-heels-in-instalove females that currently dominate the pre-teen and young adult genres. Ani is socially awkward and insecure. She gets along better with animals than humans. She is not physically strong. And it is because of all this that we get to join a wonderfully relatable character on her journey of self-discovery. I listened to the audio book which was interesting as the novel is read by a number of actors. This made the story read like a movie, and I wish all audio books were done in the same format.

The one big negative I have is Ani’s magical ability. I don’t want to provide any spoilers so I will just say that I felt it needed to be tied in better. The magic its self was fine; I just found it difficult to believe she was the only one with this ability. Plus, the reactions to her powers at the end just did not feel believable. That’s all I am going to say about that!

PARENTAL ALERT: Goose Girl is written for a younger audience but there are a few graphic scenes that may be a bit much for some readers. This includes suggestions towards rape (no actual attempts or the physical act) and animal cruelty. You may want to read it first before recommending it to younger readers.

Goose Girl is a great story for readers of all ages as it reminds that we don’t need external approval to feel special and strong. Pick it up if you’re in the mood for an interesting fantasy and let me know if you have any fantasy recommendations!

Lindsay

The Battle of the Labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth

by Rick Riordan

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Percy Jackson isn’t expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.
In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos’s army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth – a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn.

The Battle of the Labyrinth is the fourth novel in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I am so glad I picked up this series because the books just keep getting better and better! The Battle of the Labyrinth is definitely my favorite!

The story begins with Percy trying to enjoy his freshman orientation while on summer break. He’s less than thrilled because it is a new school and he has to be on his best behavior to his true identity from his mom’s new boyfriend, who is also a teacher at the school. The good thing is his friend Rachel Elizabeth Dare is attending the school; the bad news is the cheerleaders are not human. It’s no surprise when orientation ends with the school in flames and Percy heading for camp. But, camp is no longer safe. Kronos is determined to access Camp Half Blood through the Labyrinth, and it is up to Annabeth, Percy, Tyson, and Grover to stop him.

This is my favorite Percy Jackson novel…so far! Let’s be honest; I love them all. The Labyrinth is such an interesting setting and Riordan’s descriptions of the mythic maze kept me enthralled during my daily drive. We delve ever deeper in to Greek mythology with this story as Riordan introduces to a few lesser known historic characters. The plot is intricate and we watch the main characters grow and develop, which is perfect for readers who previously dismissed this series because it read young. Annabeth is in charge for this mission and it gives her a chance to shine due to her knowledge in architecture and history. We also start to see her as a young woman who is stuck dealing with her growing feelings for Percy and her determination to save Luke. I don’t want to give anything away but expect development for Nico, Percy, Annabeth, and Grover as they battle their way through the Labyrinth.

Unfortunately, I stalled after reading The Battle of the Labyrinth. I am hesitant to start the next novel because I will have finished the series after turning the last page (or listening to the last CD). I don’t want it to end! And yes, I know that’s dumb because of the continuing series. I’m still dragging my feet. I don’t really have many negative points today. The plot was wonderfully intricate and I love the character development. The only ‘eh’ point is that Percy STILL knows little about Greek mythology. I’m more of an Annabeth; I would have learned everything I could upon learning my parent was a Greek god. But that’s just not Percy, and it’s annoying! But that’s it.

It’s time for me to pick up the next book! Anyone else love Rick Riordan and Percy Jackson?

Lindsay