Monday, March 31, 2014

Boys of Blur

I have been a huge fan of N.D. Wilson's book since I read his first, Leepike Ridge. I pre-order his books as soon as I can and devour them all. I was so excited when I discovered he had a new stand alone, the first since Leepike Ridge, coming out this year. Then everyone else (who doesn't read their ARCs in order of publication date, or at least doesn't get as behind as I sometimes do) started singing its praises and my excitement and expectations increased. Basically, I had astronomical expectations for this book going into it and it managed to surpass them.

This is a review of an ARC from the publisher.



Synopsis:
When Charlie moves from Palm Beach to the small town of Taper, Florida, he discovers a different world. Pinned between the everglades and the swampy banks of Lake Okeechobee, the small town produces sugar cane . . . and the fastest runners in the country. Kids chase muck rabbits in the fields while the cane is being burned and harvested. Dodging flames and blades and breathing smoke, they run down the rabbits for three dollars a skin. And when they can do that, running a football is easy.  
But there are things in the swamp, roaming the cane at night, that cannot be explained, and they seem connected to sprawling mounds older than the swamps. Together with his step-second cousin Herman "Cotton" Mack, the fastest boy on the muck, Charlie hunts secrets in the glades and on the muck flats where the cane grows secrets as old as the soft earth, secrets that haunted, tripped, and trapped the original native tribes, ensnared conquistadors, and buried runaway slaves. Secrets only the muck knows.


Boys of Blur is a story of brotherhood, rivalry, football, family, and Beowulf. Yes, Beowulf. 

Charlie has a past that haunts him and also fills him with hope and purpose. His mother left his dangerously violent father when he was only five. Charlie remembers the fear and what it was like to be running from him. He has a step-dad now though who is everything that is wonderful and encouraging and an adorable little sister. As the story opens, Charlie's past and present are colliding. Back in the town where both his father and step-father grew up, and where both men currently are working, Charlie is facing a present that is both haunting and hopeful too. This story is about him finding the courage to face the things that frighten him, let go of the things eating at his soul, and learning to run with the best of them-not away from things but toward them. He is a character who pulls at the reader and draws them into the story. His step-second-cousin, Cotton, who claims him as just a cousin, welcomes him to his new home and teaches him a bit about the town and the running. The two boys bond like most boys do: running and getting into trouble together. I really liked this aspect. The cast of other characters are wide and varied. This is a short book, less than 200 pages, and yet the entire town comes to life. Each character has a distinct voice and that includes all of the adults. I particularly liked Mack, Charlie's ex-football star step-father. I also appreciated how the storyline with Charlie's real father was handled. 

This sounds like fairly typical MG contemporary realistic fiction at this point, but it isn't. Because there is something not quite alive but not quite dead wreaking havoc in the flats. Old rivalries are tearing the town apart. The little jealousies, bitter musings, and grudges people have cradled in their hearts are taking over their whole souls. Everyone is turning on everyone else. Charlie and Cotton discover it is due to an ancient evil trapped beneath the muck and swamp lands waiting for her time to take over the halls and bodies of men. Soon the boys find themselves having to face this evil and decide what to do about it. They are brave and foolish. Just as 12 year old boys are. And it all works together so well. The plot is a reworking of Beowulf, the evil being the mother who is birthing man devouring monsters. She wants to burn the world. It is up to Charlie to stop it. I really appreciated how he had so much assistance though. This is one thing Wilson always does well in his books. In a world of MG and YA novels where adult supervision and assistance are glaringly, sometimes ridiculously, absent, Wilson never abandons his young protagonists to fight their monsters alone. There are always strong, capable, and loving adults there to help. 

The themes explored in this novel are sweeping in scope. For such a short, quick read, the book is brimming with symbolism and thematic greatness. What makes a family, what holding on to the negative aspects of life does to a person, when to stand up for right, having courage in the face of overwhelming odds, and knowing what it is you are living for (so you can know what it is you are willing to die for) are all pulled into Charlie's story. Themes Wilson explores in most of his books, but they all are worth exploring repeatedly and he does it so darn well. There is also a great deal of diversity in the book, a thing we need more of and is always nice to see. Charlie is white, his step-dad is black. I loved how this wasn't a big deal, it just was. They make some jokes about it, but they're jokes that clearly come from a place of comfort and familiarity with each other. A knowledge that they are family no matter.

The imagery and descriptiveness of the book are pretty much perfect. As I read, I felt like I was right there with the boys. I could feel the stifling heat, the burning, the pain. And the words just flow together so well:
The bicycle pegs swayed beneath Charlie's feet. He felt strange moving so quickly while standing so still, like a man on a chariot. Gravel crunched beneath the tires and Cotton's shoulders rocked under his hands. Moonglow loomed on the horizon. or maybe it was the sky-kiss of distant lights. Charlie's skin prickled as night air parted around him. Every bit of him was hungry to feel and to remember.
Florida darkness washed over him, and Charlie Reynolds filled his lungs with it. Maybe he didn't belong in this place, but he belonged in this moment. It smelled like rich earth and hidden water. It smelled like fire.

And if all of this weren't extraordinary enough, Wilson managed to write a small town story that is not over flowing with quirkiness. THANK HEAVENS. 

This line is probably my favorite though because it pretty much sums up the south: Football and church don't cancel for nobody.

Boys of Blur is a book that will be an easy sell for any reader, reluctant or book devourer. Football, monsters, boys who are heroes, the fast pace of the writing, and overall shortness are going to make it a hot commodity. If you know a child buy it for them. If you work with children buy more than one to have on hand. My students love Wilson's books and this is going to send some of the boys into a state of pure bliss. I may get trampled when I book talk it.

I read an ARC provided by the publisher, Random House Books for Young Readers, at ALA Midwinter. Boys of Blur is available for purchase on April 8th. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Quarterly Review Round-Up with GIVEAWAY

I decided it was probably time for me to start doing some sort of review round-up, but I don't want to do a weekly or monthly one linking to ALL my reviews. I decided that a quarterly one where I could revisit the best books I've loved plus those that I don't usually include on here (DNFs and adult novels) is what I wanted.

The Books I've DNFed (with links to my reasons-if I shared them-on Goodreads):
Dangerous by Shannon Hale
Elusion by Claudia Gabel, Cheryl Klam
Game Over, Pete Watson by Joe Schreiber
The Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin (I am going to revisit this one. Maybe.)
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

The Adult Books (all romance) I've Read (links to reviews on Goodreads):
Carolina Home, Carolina Girl, and Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra
The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
Proof By Seduction by Courtney Milan
Ten Ways to Be Adored While Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean

The 4.5 and 5 Star Reads of this Quarter (This is where the Giveaway comes in.) Links to my review unless otherwise noted.

I'm having a really great reading year so far. Last year at this time I had three to four books I LOVED. There are so many more this year. I'm hoping this is a sign of a whole good year and not a sign that the rest of it will be terrible.


Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier (YA Fantasy)
Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson (MG Fantasy; Review posts on Monday.)


Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra (Adult Romance)
The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand (Adult Romance)


Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty (YA Fantasy)*
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (YA Fantasy)


A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (MG Fantasy)
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage (MG Fantasy)



Horizon by Jenn Reese (MG Science-Fiction/Fantasy; Review posts Friday.)*
Jinx's Magic by Sage Blackwood (MG Fantasy)* 



Looking for Alibrandi
by Melina Marchetta (YA Historical)
Moonkind by Sarah Prineas (MG Fantasy)*


Nomad by R.J. Anderson (MG Fantasy)*

GIVEAWAY Rules

*Indicates later books in a trilogy or series. If you are wanting to begin with the first book and you win, I will allow you to choose that as your prize.

If you want to win one of the 4.5/5 star books I read this quarter, leave a comment below and tell me:
1) A favorite book of yours from the past few months.
2) Which of these books you are interested in if you win. (You can change your mind if you do.)
3) A way to reach you (email or Twitter handle) if you win. If you are using a Twitter handle, you may want to follow me in case I need to DM you.

Open to any reader who lives where Book Depository ships for free.

I will close this GIVEAWAY and choose a winner on Saturday, ARIL 5 at 8:00 PM EDT.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Face Like Glass

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge was one of the books I had to read for the YAMG Book Challenge. It was the only book potentially destined to come my way in the brackets that I had not previously read. Why? Because it has not been published in the US yet. And this is a TRAGEDY.

Synopsis:
In the underground city of Caverna the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare. They create wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned. Only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear — at a price.
Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell's emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed ...


This is the story of Neverfell, a wide-eyed, sheltered, compassionate, cheerful, inquisitive girl who longs to explore and see the world outside the front door she has been locked behind as long as she can remember. Characters like this usually drive me insane. There is so much goodness in her. An unbelievable amount of goodness. I normally can't stand this, but Neverfell caught me and held me and made me love her. And even though I knew she was heading for a host of awful discoveries that were going to change and disillusion her, I found I didn't want them to change her. She is naive and far too trusting. There were moments when I wanted to jump in the book and knock her upside the head, but her naiveté is so genuine and believable. She has no reason for cynicism or distrust. She was never taught the possible cruelties of the world, and her world is cruel indeed. Where she is, no one can show the emotions they feel in their facial expressions. Except for Neverfell. People pay to learn how to make expressions and tailor them for the appropriateness of a moment, so they are never genuine. Except for Neverfell. She is the perfect tool and in constant danger as a result. She utterly refuses to see this and stumbles through life with a warm generosity that ordinarily makes me want to walk away from a character and never look back. In this case I wanted to shelter her and help her, meaning I was very much able to relate to one of the other characters in the story she comes across. One more cynical and not quite trustworthy. There is more to Neverfell though. Part of her curiosity is a result of her scientific mind. She is an amazingly talented mechanic. She is also fiercely determined and, it turns out, capable of being sneaky and ruthless herself which made me like her even more. (I know. I obviously have issues.) Everyone thinks she's mad, but really her mind just works differently. So much is made about her appearance, but it is really the way she thinks and feels that throw the people around her off. She is different. Other. And that means she is to be feared or used. Both at the same time occasionally. 

Which brings me to the themes in the book. Through Neverfell and the people she comes in contact with, those who want to use her, those who want to protect her, and those who end up working with her, Hardinge paints a picture of a society we all can recognize because we live in it. Despite the world of Carverna being distinctly different from our own, it is exactly like our own. The twisted political maneuverings, the exploitation and intentional subjugation of those that can be forced to work, the falseness of society, and the power of belief in a system is brought out in every word on every page. But it is not at all forced. It is rendered through the contrast of Neverfell and the world around her, thorough her desire to do good and her ability to spark the same in others, through the details in the world building. It is all brilliantly woven together. 

Then there is the writing, which is as top-notch as it gets. Beautiful imagery, evocative descriptions, and soul searing emotion are all on display. The world of Caverna is one I could feel, see, taste, and smell. The twistiness of the writing mirrors the twistiness of the world, leaving the reader slightly confused and light-headed in places, exactly as I imagine life in Caverna would be. I felt at times like I was being smothered under the weight of it all just as Neverfell was. I wanted her to get out from underneath that mountain and feel the sun and wind and rain. Hear birds sing. I expect good writing when I sit down with a Frances Hardinge novel, but feel she outdid my fairly high expectations with this one.
Some examples:
No, despite her best efforts she was a skinny, long-boned tangle of fidget and frisk, with feet that would not stay still, and elbows made to knock things off shelves.

There were many who called the Court a jungle, and with good reason. It had a jungle's lush and glittering beauty. The people who dwelt in it, in their turn, were not unlike jungle creatures...There are many dangers in the jungle, but perhaps the greatest is forgetting that one is not the only hunter, and that one is probably not the largest.

He felt a shock, as if her faith was a golden axe and had struck right through his dusty husk of a heart. The heart did not bleed, however, and in the next moment its dry fibres were closing and knitting back together again.

A Face Like Glass has a lot of political intrigue and complexity to it as well. It demands a lot of its readers, whether adults or children. And I love that. Books intended for a child audience who don't talk down to them or underestimate them are the best books there are. It never shies away from the harder more difficult truths it is trying to convey, but simply puts them in a package a child can see, understand, and accept. And running through all of the darkness and hard truths is brightness of hope. This book is everything that I love and it will have a place on my bookshelf forever. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WoW: Magic Thief: Home

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


Despite successfully securing a balance between the competing magics of Wellmet, Conn is not happy. Duchess Rowan has promoted him to ducal magister, but the other wizards see him only as a thief. But something sinister is brewing, as magicians’ locus stones are being stolen and magical spells are going awry. As Conn faces old enemies and powerful magical forces, is he strong enough to save the city he calls home?

I love The Magic Thief series so much, and I can not wait to see what this latest installment will add to the story. And that cover makes me all kinds of happy. 

The Magic Thief: Home is on sale on September 16, 2014. 

What are you looking forward to this week. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

YAMG Book Battle Round Three

The YAMG Book Battle is about to enter Round Three. There are now four books left. Of those four, I picked one to move on to the finals. I'm not giving away any secrets though. You have to wait until tomorrow to discover which I picked. Here are the Final Four.

Match One, March 26 (MINE!)

Match Two, March 27

Any one have any predictions?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Rose and the Lost Princess

When I read Rose by Holly Webb late last year, I was instantly captivated by the world and characters. Needless to say I was definitely excited that it was the first in a series and couldn't wait to read the sequel, Rose and the Lost Princess. 

This is a review of an ARC received from publisher.

Synopsis:
Now an apprentice magician, Rose is asked to help find a very special missing person
Turning the worn pages of her spell book, Rose can't believe how much her life has changed. Once a poor orphan, she is now an apprentice to the king's chief magician. But when the country's beloved princess vanishes, everything changes. As rumors of dark magic fly through the city, the king asks Rose for help. She must find the missing princess, before all is lost.

Rose and the Lost Princess picks up almost right where Rose left off. It is a sequel, but it is one of those children's series books that does not require reading the first book to enjoy. There is all the information that you need to know from the first included in the beginning. This made the opening a little slow for me as I had read the first, but I don't remember that ever bothering me as a child reader. As soon as the new mystery central to the plot in this book began, I was sucked into the story and world again. A strange winter is being visited no England, people are increasingly uneasy with their magical brethren, and it looks as if the royal family is  the target of a magical plot. A good portion of the story takes place in the palace as Rose has to help the princesses and keep them safe. It is an interesting and engaging plot and all the key players from the first book are back to assist her. Bella and Freddie play key roles again. And Gus, the magical talking cat, plays the biggest helping role of all. Gus is my favorite character in these books. Not even going to pretend otherwise.

Rose finds herself at a loss as to who she is and what she wants to be as the story opens. She is a hard-working girl and very much wants to earn her own way in life so she is continuing in her role as servant as well as magical apprentice. Her problem is the other servants are less than happy to discover Rose has magic and make her life extremely difficult. She is so sad for so much of the first half of the book. This part of the plot isn't really resolved as she then goes to the palace and gets caught up in her work. I'm sure it will be addressed in other books, but it was interesting to see her struggling and trying to figure out a solution to the problem. 

It is clear there is a nemesis on the loose who will make a return in later volumes and there is still the question of who Rose is and where she came from to be answered. In a series like this you will always have questions left unanswered, ready for the next books down the line. Despite knowing that, I felt the ending here was a little abrupt. 

Rose and her companions are delightful characters and I love the mix of magic and mystery in these books.

I read an ARC received from the publisher, Sourcebooks, at ALA Midwinter. Rose and the Lost Princes goes on sale in the US on April 1. It is available now in the UK. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

SLJ's Battle of the Books Round Two

I am loving the battle this year so much. I don't love many of the books, and I don't agree with all the decisions. BUT. The decisions themselves have been amazing. The judges are setting a new standard this year for sure. I usually pick a favorite quote from each decision, and it is often hard to find one I like. This year it would be impossible to narrow it down to one. Read them all. They are all so good.

Match One, March 21

The Animal Book versus Boxers & Saints

Judge: Tonya Bolden

My Pick: Boxers & Saints
I really loved Boxers & Saints. I like the way the two stories overlap and intertwine, the history, the different perspectives, and the mixture of mediums. I enjoy The Animal Book, but as I said before story will win over books like this for me every time.

Match Two, March 24
 Eleanor & Park versus Far Far Away

Judge: Rae Carson

My Pick: Eleanor &Park
I enjoyed Eleanor &Park for the characters. Both Eleanor and Park are great characters that pull you into their story and make you feel. The only thing Far Far Away made me feel was a desperate need to get far far away from it.

Match Three, March 25



Hokey Pokey versus P.S. Be Eleven

Judge: Joseph Bruchac

My Pick: P.S. Be Eleven
In his decision Tom Angleberger talked about feeling Hokey Pokey was about children rather than for children. I think that sums it up perfectly and I believe P.S. Be Eleven is a both so it is my pick to go on to round three.

Match 4, March 26
 The Thing About Luck versus The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

Judge: Katherine Marsh

My Pick: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
Oh it is wretched to have to see the MG books go up against each other. The True Blue Scouts is such a delightful story and one that will appeal to many kids. It is a perfect read aloud book and I can't wait to read it to my son in a couple of years. While The Thing About Luck is technically a good book from a literary standpoint, I didn't enjoy it. At all. It bored me. People keep going on about the amazing characters, but I didn't find them all that amazing. I thought they were rather flat and lost in all the talk about wheat harvesting.

Which of these books should be the winner? Two of my three favorites are out so I'm cheering on P.S. Be Eleven all the way!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Cracks in the Kingdom

When I read A Corner of White last year, I was instantly transported and enchanted by the concept and characters. I know not everyone felt the same. That book is divisive. I don't think reading The Cracks in the Kingdom will change the minds of those who didn't like it. For those who did like the first book, the second is even better, building on the story in the first and expanding it.

This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher.

Synopsis: 

Princess Ko's been bluffing about the mysterious absence of her father, desperately trying to keep the government running on her own. But if she can't get him back in a matter of weeks, the consequence may be a devastating war. So under the guise of a publicity stunt she gathers a group of teens -- each with a special ability -- from across the kingdom to crack the unsolvable case of the missing royals of Cello.

Chief among these is farm-boy heartthrob Elliot Baranski, more determined than ever to find his own father. And with the royal family trapped in the World with no memory of their former lives, Elliot's value to the Alliance is clear: He's the only one with a connection to the World, through his forbidden communications with Madeleine.
Through notes, letters, and late nights, Elliot and Madeleine must find a way to travel across worlds and bring missing loved ones home. 


This is a hard review to write because I don't want to say too much. As the first, this is sort of an experience you have to have yourself. There are some things I want to highlight though.

The world that Moriarty created and introduced in the first book is just as vivid and real in this one. Cello is such a concrete place for me, and continues to be even more concrete than our real world which Madeleine lives in. Cello is where the more interesting parts of the story take place too. The politics of that world are snarled and growing more snarled by the day. As I love a good political intrigue book, this made me a happy reader. The Youth Alliance Elliot finds himself a part of to help find the princess's family has some volatile dynamics. I really liked how very much the members acted their age though. They are amazingly gifted, and yet they are all under 16 and you can clearly see that in their interactions and the things they get up to. 

Madeleine is working diligently in the world, trying to find the missing royals. Again, the interactions between Madeleine and Elliot are crucial to the flow and movement of the story. They are exchanging notes more quickly until they are real time conversations. They are also attempting to widen the crack and break through to figure out how to return the royals. In the process they are discovering each other slowly and it is a beautiful thing to see unfold. I couldn't help but be reminded of how relationships that begin online unfold as I was reading it. The way they make assumptions about each other's looks and habits, building whole people out of the spaces between words on paper. And slowly they are drawing closer to that moment when they may have to confront the reality of each other. So fascinating and emotionally riveting. They experience and share so much together and they've never even met. 

Just as the world of Cello seems more concrete, so does Elliot as a character. Not that I think Madeleine is flat or insubstantial. Quite the contrary, but I do feel like she is shrouded in a lot more mystery. We get a clearer picture of Jack and Belle and their pasts, but not Madeleine's. I'm beginning to wonder about that, but feel the obvious conclusion is so obvious it must not be the right one. So now I'm trying to come up with alternate conclusions, and this is one of the things I love most about these books. They exercise my mind and keep me thinking about them. They pretty much take over. I have dreams about aspects of them. That is a wonderful sort of book to read. Elliot shows more and more what a true hero he is. He has so many flaws, but is so laudable at the same time. He is young too, and that was easier to overlook in the first book I think. His youth and everything he still has to figure out about the world is a little more obvious in this one. 

There are couple plot points in this that took me by complete surprise and that hasn't happened to me in quite some time. Another reason I am so enamored. I absolutely can not wait for the third book. Sitting on pins and needles waiting for it. 

I read ARC won from the publisher, Arthur Levine, in a Goodreads giveaway. The Cracks in the Kingdom is available on March 25. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

TTT: Books On My Spring TBR


This week's TTT topic: Books on My Spring TBR

In order of release day:

Rose and the Lost Princess April 1, 2014

Boys of Blur April 8, 2014

Horizon April 8, 2014

The Last Best Kiss April 22, 2014


The Chapel Wars May 6, 2014

The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill May 6, 2014


We Were Liars  May 13, 2014

The Night Gardener May 20, 2014



The Castle Behind Thorns May 27, 2014

Revolution May 27, 2014

What books are you looking forward to in the coming months?

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Mark of the Dragonfly

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson is a magical adventure tale that uses several tried and true tropes and expands on them in new ways to create a fun new tale. 

Synopsis:
Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.
The girl doesn't remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she's from the Dragonfly Territories and that she's protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.

 The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect--everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible.
 Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.

Piper is a girl with no family, who lives in a scrap town. Her life is supported by her extraordinary gift with machines and the "treasure" she mines from the meteorite showers. Treasure that includes watches, books, and music boxes that come from other worlds. Piper is a tough survivor. She has a couple friends, but in the scrap towns it is pretty much everyone for herself. When faced with choosing whether or not to help an inured and frightened girl fleeing the man who terrifies her, Piper does not choose to help solely because she is a good person. She is hoping to get something from it. But as she and Anna run from Anna's past and the secrets it holds, Piper comes to truly care for what happens to her. Theirs is a great friendship story, where there strengths and weaknesses work well together. Anna is a strange and different girl. I thought her big secret was rather easy to figure out, but  young readers are going to be shocked to their toes. The third character in the trio (it is a MG fantasy so there has to be a three part lead) is a boy in charge of guarding the train the girls stowaway on by the name of Gee. Gee is quick-witted and fiercely protective. Once he decides the girls are part of his train and within his circle of protection, there is nothing that will keep keep him for helping them. There is a flirtation that develops between Piper and Gee that is sweet and perfect for a MG book. While there is mystery and magic in each of the three main characters' stories, they are pretty much the standard trio of characters you find in a fantasy novel of this type. They don't really go beyond the basics of character development.

The world is contained to two different kingdoms completely cut off from the rest of the planet/place/dimension they inhabit. These kingdoms are, of course, on the brink of war. Anna is important to one of the kingdoms. She wears the titular mark of the Dragonfly, which means she is  under the protection of the king. Into this world debris that has been thrown away from other world comes in meter showers. (Including a copy of The Wizard of Oz.) The world is a fascinating concept in itself. The threat of coming war, the factories where people are losing their lives due to pollution, and the hard life of the scrap towns comes together to make a bleak place full of danger. This allows for our heroes to have more adventures. From the dangerous meteor showers, to stowing away on a train, to escaping slavers, to running from Anna's pursuer, to escaping dangerous sky raiders, there are plenty of adventures to go around. This is certainly a book for readers who like action packed plots. It does all make the book a bit longer than it needed to be and some of the scenes seemed superfluous, not adding much to the character development or the main plot.

This is a book I see appealing to the target audience well, particularly lovers of adventure and fantasy.

I read a ARC received at ALA Midwinter from the publisher, Delacorte Book for Young Readers. The Mark of the Dragonfly is available for purchase on March 25.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

YAMG Book Battle Round Two

There have been some interesting surprise decisions (at least they were surprises to me!) in the first round of the YAMG Book Battle. I'm looking forward to Round Two starting this week and seeing what I have to choose from for Round Three.

Here are the books facing off in Round Two.

Match One Tuesday, March 18
Match Two, March 19
 Match Three, March 20
Match Four, March 23

 I am so glad The King of Attolia is still in! (I can say that because it's not coming my way.)