December 28, 2010

Museum of Thieves

By Lian Turner
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

In this exciting opening to a new series, The Keepers Trilogy, Goldie is thrilled to be finally at Separation Day.  In the city where she has grown up, children are kept safe by the feared Blessed Guardians and perpetually wear silver guardchains, never being allowed to be away from adult supervision.  But when Separation Day is unexpectedly canceled, Goldie can't take the thought of continuing to be chained, and she does the unthinkable--she runs away.  Then the hunt is on for her!  Goldie is herded unknowingly towards the Museum--a tiny dusty building she knows nothing about.  But once inside she discovers that the Museum is bigger on the inside than on the outside, that the rooms can shift, that creatures thought extinct still exist, and that the Keepers are all important to soothe the Museum and prevent it from letting its wildness escape into the city of Jewel.  As Goldie remains hidden at the Museum and learns new tricks and trades, much like the boy Toadspit who is also there, forces are set into motion by the powers that be in the city, looking to discover the secrets of the Museum.  Soon, a conflict will be set in motion as someone makes a bid to take control of both the museum and the city.  Can Goldie and the ragtag group of Keepers stop a catastrophe?  This is a real pageturner of a book, and happily a second book, City of Lies, will be out soon.  Fans of the book The City of Ember will find much to like here.


By Ingrid Law
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

This is a companion book to the award-winning Savvy.  As we discovered in Savvy, in certain families when a child reaches their 13th birthday, they get a "savvy" or magical talent.  It could be anything from the ability to can music in a jar to moving mountains to being able to read your mind if you have a tattoo.  When Ledge gets his savvy, he is dismayed that it seems to be the ability to destroy things, as anything metal or mechanical falls apart whenever he is nearby.  His parents leave him at the family ranch for the summer to see if he can work out how to control his new "talent."  While there, Ledge discovers a friend Sarah Jane, but it is complicated by her father trying to foreclose on everyone in town, including his uncle's ranch.  As Ledge struggles with his own abilities, he also finds that others are also struggling with their own demons, like his cousin Rocket.  Can Ledge pull everything together and help his uncle save the ranch at the same time?  An enjoyable fantasy that doesn't require reading of the first book to understand, but readers may well go back to read Savvy after finishing this one.

November 26, 2010

13 Treasures

By Michelle Harrison
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

Picking up this book, one might think that it will simply be a quest for the 13 treasures in the title.  In fact, the story doesn't reveal what the 13 treasures are until more than halfway through, and there is never a quest to recover them.  Instead, we follow Tanya, a 13 year old girl being routinely tortured by fairies that she can see but no one else can.  At her wit's end at what she thinks is Tanya's wild acting out behavior, Tanya's mom ships her off to her grandmother's rambling old mansion for a break.  But it is there, with the groundskeeper's son Fabian, that Tanya uncovers a 50 year old mystery of a missing girl as well as a recent mystery of another missing child from a local hospital.  Can the fairies somehow be involved? And can Tanya's ability to see them finally come in useful?  Light, fanciful, beautiful fairies are not what you'll find in this story--instead the fairies tend to be dark and dangerous, as is the situation that Tanya finds herself in.  Readers will be drawn into this deep, twisting story and eagerly turn the pages to get to its both tragic and hopeful conclusion.

October 25, 2010

The White Horse Trick

By Kate Thompson
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

This is the companion novel to excellent The New Policeman and The Last of the High Kings, featuring familiar characters from those stories.  Set sometime in the future, devastating weather is sweeping the world, causing floods, droughts, hurricanes and worse, slowly eliminating land and food supplies and ultimately, all of the human race.  In Ireland, the tyrannical local Commander heads up an army lead by his brother who forage amongst the people who are left, compelling them to come work for him or taking any supplies they can find.  But that army general has a plan--he knows there exists the land of T'ir na n'Og where time passes so slowly as to almost not move at all, and if he can get the remaining people and relics of human culture through the time skin to that fairy land, he can save the human race.  But as the first people appear in T'ir na n'Og, they run into the fairies, who soon discover that the man who is sending the folk across is none other than Donal, J.J. Liddy's son.  J.J. has retired to T'ir na n'Og, but when he discovers that his youngest son Aidan has taken over as the greedy commander, he has to set out to try and stop him.  Meanwhile, Donal continues trying to save everyone he can.  Is the world finally at an end?  Or can it still be saved?  Fans of the previous books will find much to like here, and will wonder how things will turn out in this compelling tale.  We all should hope there truly exists a T'ir na n'Og.

September 22, 2010

Ivy's Ever After

By Dawn Lairamore
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

Princess Ivy is not the dainty, proper, well-behaved princess she is supposed to be.  In fact, she runs rather wild over the tiny kingdom of Arendale, and her befuddled father lets her.  That is, until Ivy discovers that upon her 14th birthday, she is to be locked in a tower guarded by a dragon until a prince arrives to slay the dragon, marry the princess and thus become king of Arendale.  This arrangement has been going on for centuries as part of the Dragon Treaty--an agreement to stop the dragons from pillaging the countryside and to lure potential suitors to an otherwise tiny and not very attractive kingdom.  But before Ivy is locked away, a suitor arrives from a northern country--and Ivy quickly discovers he is as arrogant and unkind as he is handsome.  All her efforts to drive him off are in vain however, and it is only when she finally is put in the tower that she discovers his true evil plot.  Desperate to tell someone else of the planned mischief, Ivy ends up turning to the only other being she can talk to--the dragon guarding her.  Soon Ivy and Elridge the dragon are on a quest across the Craggie Mountains to attempt to find the only other person they think could help--Ivy's missing fairy godmother.  There is plenty of action, humor and fun to this fantasy, and readers will thoroughly enjoy it from beginning to end.

August 02, 2010

Ranger's Apprentice: The Kings of Clonmel

By John Flanagan
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

Flanagan returns with book 8 in the Ranger's Apprentice series.  Fans of Halt, Will and Horace will be more than delighted to reacquaint themselves with these great characters as they face their newest adventure.  Halt has discovered a religious cult that call themselves The Outsiders has infiltrated the country of Hibernia.  The Outsiders are supremely dangerous beyond just gathering followers.  They also hire a group of bandits to raid towns and farms and then claim that only their god Alseiass can protect the townspeople...if the townsfolk give up their gold and jewels to make offerings to the god.  Well, of course they move on when the town has been bled dry, but they also gain followers.  And when they get enough followers, they are going to attempt to take over the kings who run the country and rule it all.  But Halt gets wind of it and of their leader Tennyson, and takes Will and Horace along to Hibernia which we learn is Halt's actual birthplace.  And going to Hibernia reveals a few choice tidbits about Halt's most mysterious past.  Is there fighting against impossible odds?  Of course!  It is what we love about this series.  The end is a bit of a cliffhanger, for while the immediate threat is dealt with, the story isn't over.  Fans will look forward to the next book in the series, Halt's Peril, due out in October 2010, that should conclude this particular adventure, and will be happy to know a book 10 will follow in the spring of 2011.

May 18, 2010

The Timekeeper's Moon

By Joni Sensel
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

In this great follow up to The Farwalker's Quest, Ariel is one of a previously thought dead trade--farwalking.  Now after her big adventure of discovering the lost Vault, she and her guardian Finder Scarl have been spreading the news about the find in communities near and far.  But now, suddenly, the moon starts doing something it has never done before--talking to Ariel.  Urging her to hurry.  To heed it.  Warning that all may become undone.  Ariel, Scarl and Zeke discover a map at the Vault, a map that Ariel believes may bring them to where her feet and the moon wants her to go.  So as Ariel and Scarl travel, they discover more and more about the meaning of the map, and pick up traveling companions Sienna and Nace (a romantic interest for Ariel) in the village of Swamp.  But more disturbing events occur, when items from Ariel and Scarl's past begin to reappear and then disappear, and time seems to move strangely.  All Ariel knows is that she must find the original sender of the telling darts, and that a waterfall called Timekeeper is the destination they need to reach before it is too late.  Interesting and suspenseful, readers will be be wrapped up in the story and eager to see how it concludes and will hope for further sequels.

April 24, 2010

A Conspiracy of Kings

By Megan Whalen Turner
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

Fans of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia will be thrilled to see those familiar characters and settings back in action.  This time the focus is not on Gen but on Sophos, who we first met as the magus' apprentice back in The Thief.  Very quickly we discover Sophos is now on the threshold of adulthood, but still an intellectual and one who considers himself more a poet and never as an actual possible candidate to be king of Sounis.  But all that changes when his remote island villa where he and his mother and sisters were secreted away is attacked by people aiming to kidnap the family.  For the first time ever, Sophos has to spring into action and finds himself actually equal to the task.  Unfortunately, he is still taken captive, discovering that there is a plot to kill his uncle and replace him with Sophos as a puppet king, taking orders from the rebellious dukes.  But it is in his captivity that Sophos begins to realize that maybe, just maybe, he has the right stuff to be a king after all.  Filled with politic intrigue and battles, fans of the earlier books will be eager to see how everything turns out as plans turn on a dime and the plots are thick with betrayals from all different corners.  Some readers will miss not seeing more of Eugenides, but all in all, a very welcome addition to the Queen's Thief series.

April 06, 2010

Falling In

By France O'Roark Dowell
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Isabelle Bean is that kid you all know--the awkward girl who doesn't really have any friends, who doesn't quite fit in.  Not a troublemaker really, but even the teachers don't know how to reach her.  But Isabelle knows she is different.  That her imagination is bigger than everyone else's.  In fact, her imagination is big enough that on the day she helps Charley Bender in the nurse's office and opens up the closet door, Isabelle...falls in.  Into another world, as a matter of fact.  And Isabelle is not surprised--in fact, she's suspected all along that perhaps she was a changeling.  That maybe at last she's come to the world she belongs in.  When she finds out that this world has a notorious witch, famous for eating children, Isabelle isn't scared.  In fact, she goes out to meet this witch face-to-face.  But how Isabelle gets there, and who comes along, and what she discovers about the witch?  None of it is what Isabelle expected it to be.  Readers will fall into this story as quickly as Isabelle falls into that other world, and will spend their time there quite happily.  An unusual and wonderful tale that will make many fans.  A surefire hit!

February 24, 2010

The Islands of the Blessed

By Nancy Farmer
Rating: 4 stars

This is the sequel to The Land of Silver Apples and The Sea of Trolls. We join Jack, Thorgil and the Bard once more happily living in their small village after their many adventures. Then a storm tears through the village and a "draugr"--a sea hag wronged by Father Severus--is drawn to the village by the holy bell Fair Lamenting. She desires revenge on Severus, and so Jack, Thorgil and the Bard leave for Bebba's Town hoping to give the draugr satisfaction by dealing directly with Father Severus. But their task is not so straightforward, and will lead to many more adventures, including sailing with the Northmen, finding the home of the merpeople in Notland, discovering the hiding place of St. Columba, and much much more. Will Jack finally begin to take up the mantle as a bard in his own right? Will Thorgil ever be happy if she can't become a shield maiden? Will they even survive their adventures to make it back home again? Once again, Farmer creates many a fantastic tale and could easily return to this world to spin many more. Fans of the previous books will be satisfied with this final(?) entry.

February 03, 2010

The Lost Conspiracy

By Frances Hardinge
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

In this excellent fantasy, Hathin looks after her elder sister Arilou, one of the hallowed "Lost" of the island who are able to send their minds and senses away from their bodies to look at the world and communicate with each other. Arilou is extra-special for she is Lace in origin--one of the tribes of people on the island who are often maligned. Then mysteriously, all of the Lost die simultaneously one night and the only one not affected? Arilou. Immediately suspicion comes down on the Lace--did they plan to kill all of the Lost? Hathin and Arilou must flee for their lives, attempting to outrun what seems to be a crazed mob of people looking to blame the Lace for their troubles. But the further they flee, the more Hathin realizes that there is a deeper plot at work. Why didn't Arilou die with the other Lost? And why are the Lace being treated as scapegoats? Who or what is behind the rounding up and extermination of her people? The plot is thick and the adventure is high and readers will be drawn deeply into the storyline and hang on until the breathless finish. Excellent!

January 20, 2010

Erak's Ransom

By John Flanagan
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

This is book 7 in the Ranger's Apprentice series, which happily shows no signs of flagging. Flanagan actually takes us a bit back in time before the events that occur in books 5 and 6. In this story, Will is ready to graduate into the Ranger Corps, but has not quite yet. In preparation for losing his longtime apprentice, Halt is finally getting married to Lady Pauline but the celebration is interrupted by the arrival of the Skandian Svengal with the news that the Oberjarl Erak has been captured by the Arridi and they are asking a ransom. Erak suspects foul play from some Skandians looking to overthrow him, so Svengal is asking for help from the Araluens instead of heading back to Skandia so as to not show weakness. Soon enough, Will, Halt, Gilan, Horace and Princess Cassandra are on their way to the desert continent to ransom Erak. But as ever, the plans do not run smoothly and soon the gang find they must band together with both the Arridi and the Bedullin to rescue Erak when he falls into even more devious hands. As usual, fans of the series will enjoy our well known characters and welcome meeting more. The plotting is solid and we all look forward to further adventures with Will Treaty and his friends.

January 05, 2010


By Angie Sage
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

This is book 5 in the Septimus Heap series. Readers will be much better off having read the previous volumes to follow this story. We pick up where book 4 left off, where Nicko and Snorri have been saved from living out of time. Nicko, Snorri, Jenna and Beetle all run into Jenna's dad Milo in Port, where he offers them hospitality upon his gorgeous ship, the Cerys. He is also excited because he has procured a chest full of what looks like little lead tubes to Jenna, but he says is something of immense wealth and importance. Meanwhile, Septimus rides his dragon Spit Fyre to get his friends and bring them back to the Castle, but Nicko and Snorri decide to sail back on the Cerys. When a huge storm hits the dragon and his riders, they crash onto an island and must remain there while Spit Fyre heals. And on this island, Septimus meets Syrah, a former ExtraOrdinary Wizard Apprentice herself who is possessed by a Syren. Syrah warns that some horrible danger to the Castle is afoot, with the Syren being part of the trouble. Soon we discover the treasure on the Cerys, a giant catlike lighthouse, some pirates, the ghost of Tertius Fume and the Syren are all part of a giant plot to take over the Wizard Tower and Castle. Can Septimus and the gang stop the terrible plan? There are more side plots and characters than could ever be counted in a review, and fans will be pleased to encounter the other storylines and people that they love. A solid entry in a solidly entertaining fantasy series.