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Posts tagged ‘Fantasy’

Mystic

I received my copy from the publisher.

mystic

By: Alyson Noel

The Soul Seekers series bk 3

Daire Santos tried to kill Cade Richter but things didn’t go according to plan and she finds herself separated from everyone she loves, she is in the Upperworld seemingly trapped. She comes up with a plan because there is no way she is going to be kept away from Dace and the others she cares about. When she finally gets back she discovers she isn’t the only one who is missing. No-one knows where Dace is and yet Cade seems to be doing just fine. As soon as she is able Daire sets out to rescue Dace and then they will see what can be done about the Richter’s, though with Cade and Dace being so connected no-one is sure what that will be.

Daire and Dace drive this story along, their love, their torment, their individual destinies, but the supporting cast are what flesh this tale out. The older characters providing wisdom and mentorship (both good and evil) and peers such as Xotichl and Lita providing support and grounding. The introduction of a third party set on the destruction of the Richters provides another level as in this case the often used plot device ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’, simply doesn’t work here, with the destruction of one boy equalling the destruction of both.

The time Daire and Dace spent separated has changed them, it has altered their abilities and as the story progresses they start to understand to what extent these changes are. I find the integration of the spirit animals and spirit world interesting, it gives what could just be another story of good verses evil a different spin. I still look forward to finding out how Noel is going to continue this and wrap it all up.

Publisher: MacMillan Children’s Books

Published: 04 July 2013

Format: Paperback 352 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Romance

ISBN 13: 9781447206835

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

Poison Boy

I was sent this book by the publisher

the-poison-boy

By: Fletcher Moss

Dalton Fly has a job, it’s not one that guarantees a long life but for an orphan it is better than nothing. Dalton is a food taster for the rich. He has the unenviable job of testing to ensure food and drink on the tables of the wealthy is not poisoned. Dalton has had a narrow escape, his mate wasn’t so lucky. This though thrusts Dalton into a world he has only ever been part of on the fringes. Along with his best mate and Scarlet Dropmore, one of the rich and privileged, he sets out to find who killed his friend only to discover he has wandered into something far bigger and way more unexpected than his wildest dreams could ever have come up with.

From the first blood filled moments this book takes the reader on quite a ride. The world Moss has created is gritty, grotty as you would expect when the characters come from the poorer parts of the world. It is contrast to the the parties and lifestyle of the wealthy whose lives they end up meddling in. Dalton and his best mate Sal are a great team, Dalton’s courage and Sal’s smarts are a good balance. I like their loyalty, it is a thread that runs through the story and gives Dalton a more rounded character which he needs as the story progresses. The plot is tight and action packed. If you are looking for a mystery dashed in blood and back handed goings on, this is well worth a look.

Publisher: Chicken House Ltd

Published: 04 April 2013

Format: Paperback 352 pages

Categories: Adventure, Mystery, Crime, Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9781908435446

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

Ash Rover Keeper of the Phoenix

ash-rover

By: Aleesah Darlison

Ash Rover doesn’t want to be just looking after the cows, which goes someway to explaining how he was asleep on his post. He is rudely awakened by a rock dropping on his head, though it is no ordinary rock, this rock generates warmth. He takes it home but his mother is not impressed she just wants him to do his chores. It turns out his rock isn’t rock, it is a phoenix egg and when the phoenix hatches it declares Ash it’s keeper. Ash has no idea what this means but in a place where magic is banned, this may not be a good thing. Before long Ash is summoned before the lady of the land, sent out on a quest, responsible for saving everyone he knows and dealing with things he has simply never thought about before. The problem with this quest is it has a deadline, will he be able to beat it?

This is a thoroughly fun adventure filled with magical creatures and a hero who isn’t sure he can be a hero. Ash isn’t the smartest or the bravest, in the end he does what he has to simply because it is the right thing to do. A great thing about this is he isn’t alone, his best friends have joined him on the quest and throughout they also have their moments of doubt, the great thing is they help each other push on.

Darlison has taken some familiar creatures and given them a little twist. She has given us characters who are appealing, and a plot that keeps a good pace never slowing down enough to lose the reader. A great choice for younger readers just beginning their journey into the fantastical realms created for reading pleasure.

Publisher: Walker Books

Published: 01 February 2014

Format: Paperback 272 pages

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy

ISBN 13: 9781922179029

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

The Disappearance of Ember Crow

I received my copy from the publisher

the-disappearance-of-ember-crow

By: Ambelin Kwaymullina

The Tribe book 2

Ashala Wolf has struggled since returning to the Tribe but she needs to leave the wolf pack where she has found solace and return to leading her people because her best friend Ember Crow has gone missing. Ashala will not rest until Ember is found and safe with friends. Ashala struggles to control her sleepwalking powers but sets out to do this regardless what she doesn’t know though could change things forever. Ember is trying to shield the Tribe from the most devastating thing she knows, her own past. Ember is hiding a bigger secret than any of them could ever guess at, and she is convinced once Ashala knows the truth she will never look at her the same.

This second book doesn’t loose any of the strength of the first. Ashala has cracks and slips, her flaws contribute to her strength at the centre of the story. The twist that is Ember’s secret is intriguing and there was simply no way to see it coming. This instalment drew me into this world alongside these people, even more than the first. The world Kwaymullina has created is a detailed and very easy to visualise, it is a wonderful world that has more than enough differences from many dystopian stories to make it stand out from the pack. The characters individually have their own journeys and they compliment each other, Ashala would be less than who she is without Ember, Jaz and Connor. Ashala may be what holds the story together but they each contribute value.

I really enjoyed this book and am eager to read the rest of the tale.

Highly recommended.

Publisher: Walker Books Australia

Published: 01 November 2013

Format: Paperback 400 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Dystopian

ISBN 13: 9781921720093

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page.

Monster School

I received this book from the publishers.

monster-school

By: DC Green

City of Monsters bk 1

Thomas Regus is an endangered species, he is a human in a city of monsters. If he isn’t very careful he will end up as food for any one of various predatory species. The problem is he is feeling trapped. He is net in line for the human throne but he feels he knows nothing about the world in which he lives. So Thomas puts together an outrageous plan to get him out of the castle and learn more all at the same time. He enrols in Monster School, where he meets vampires, zombies, goblins, mummies and giant spiders. It turns out though that he finds out more than he bargained for and sets out on a quest to save what is left of his kingdom.

An adventure story filled with fantastical creatures, backstabbing and loads of greed. Thomas is a character filled with heart and courage, he doesn’t back away from something that may be dangerous if he knows it has to be done. The wacky group of outsiders he teams up with make for interesting companions, some who fight their nature to travel with a human, (monsters are of course bought up to think of humans as food). This is a dark world, as you would expect from one filled with creatures from nightmares but it is tempered with plenty of humour. If you have or know a middle grade readers who love monsters then give this series a try.

Publisher: Ford Street Publishing

Published: 01 October 2013

Format: Paperback

Categories: Horror, Monsters

ISBN 13: 9781925000078

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page

Flora & Ulysses – The Illuminated Adventures

I received this from the publisher

flora-and-ulyssesBy: Kate DiCamillo

Illustrated By: KG Campbell

Flora Belle Buckman is a little different. Flora considers herself a cynic. She loves comic books, practices hard at ignoring her mother and misses her father who no longer lives with them. One day she witnesses something strange, a squirrel getting vacuumed up. She races out to rescue him and a most amazing thing happens. The squirrel has been changed by his ordeal and Flora takes it upon herself to take care of him, starting with giving him the name of Ulysses.

Flora talks to Ulysses, he understands. He types poetry, has amazing strength and can even fly. Together they will be able to do remarkable things. Flora’s mother however sees things differently, fortunately Flora’s father is more understanding. Then the two are separated, will they find their way back to each other?

This is a truly beautiful tale of a unique friendship and a dysfunctional family. Flora is different and that makes her open to seeing the potential in Ulysses but it also makes her fascinating in her own right, as she grows in their journey together to find positive things a cynic might otherwise not see. This is a heartwarming story told with a masterful hand and complemented wonderfully by illustrations, sometimes in the form of comic book like panels. It is the sort of story that you really want to share with your children, you know the ones I’m talking about; they tug at your heart, they delight and they beg to be revisited over and over.

Highly recommended.

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Published: 24 September 2013

Format: Hardback 240 pages

Categories: Adventure, Friendship, Fantasy, Family, Humour

ISBN 13: 9780763660406

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page.

The House of Hades

By: Rick Riordan

9780141339191

Heroes of Olympus Bk 4

Percy and Annabeth are trapped in Tartarus, their only hope is to journey across the land of the dead to the Doors of Death. This will perhaps be the most testing and brutal of all trails they have gone through. To make matters worse monsters are regenerating at an increased rate and none of them like the demigods, in fact Percy and Annabeth are the reason quite a few are in Tartarus in the first place. Still they have each other and that will get them through much and then there is Bob, a surprise addition to their team, and one that could just tip the balance.

On the surface Jason, Hazel and the others are trying to get to the House of Hades so they can be at the doors to help Percy and Annabeth. This is not turning out to be as simple as flying there. Gods and monsters are doing everything they can to stop them. Hazel discovers that Hecate has a plan for her, Frank fights his fears of his parentage and comes into his own and Nico faces up to his deepest secret. Will all that be enough, with the God’s being split between their Greek and Roman selves,  and the Roman demigods determined to attack Camp Half-Blood? Gaia must be stopped but is that even possible with the team split up this way?

An awesome action filled instalment of the Heroes of Olympus series. Percy and Jason are still obviously leaders but it is not all about them. Percy and Annabeth have a real partnership and together they are much stronger than could be expected. So much of this adventure hinges on Hazel learning new skills and how to have faith in herself and Frank stepping up to be the son of Mars that he is. Frank’s story arc in this is one that builds slowly but reaches an awesome crescendo and it is going to be interesting to see where he goes in the next book. Nico’s torment is something we finally have some light shed on and it is so sad in some ways, you just want Nico to be able to move through it, it too is something that we are left wondering about. Leo too gets the chance to have some growth in a rather unexpected way (but I’m not giving any spoilers).

The pace never wavers and as such this book like those before it is hard to put down. The world Riordan creates is varied, full of the familiar and unfamiliar, and it blends together seamlessly. It seems totally fine that one minute the heroes are using magical and advanced technology and the next it’s all swords and flying horses. These books are addictive, the blend of action and mythology often leaves me wanting more.

Recommended.

Publisher: Puffin Books

Published: 08 October 2013

Format: Paperback 565 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Mythology

ISBN 13: 9780141339191

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page.

The Will of the Empress

the-will-of-the-empressBy: Tamora Pierce

Winding Circle is a long way away for our four mages, at least it is time wise and now they are all back together they find they can’t go back to the way things were. They all experienced things they don’t know how to share and this causes rifts between them. Then Sandry’s uncle asks the others to accompany her on a journey to Namor. It is a journey the reluctant Sandry has to go on because she needs to check out the lands that provide her income.

The problem is that Namorn is ruled by an Empress who is not used to people saying no to her and Sandry has no intention of getting married to the Empress’s choice and settling down to become a tool for the Namorese court. They quickly discover though that the trap isn’t just for Sandry, the Empress wants all of them to become her pets and she already has powerful mages in her employ to ensure her will is never thwarted. The Circle though is not without it’s own power, that is if they can remember what drew them together in the first place and if they can put aside their worries and start working together once again.

What a great read. This is a return to loved characters, ones that have changed and it is good to see characters go though changes like these ones have. The paths they travel on are difficult, the choices they have to make are weighty and the sort of things that would leave a mark on your soul, it is good to see an author give us characters who have changed as a direct result of their choices and actions.

More than any of them Sandry longs for things to go back to the way they were. She missed her family immensely and despite her words to them, never wanted them to go. She however is the most secure in her place, finically and status wise. She will always belong and the others don’t have that kind of security. None of them are without means though, Daja and Briar are very finically well off as their magic provides them with unique products they can sell for a tidy profit. Tris struggles with acceptance more than the others in that her magic is stranger, even more powerful, and with her new ability she is convinced everyone will think less of her.

Pierce has given us a very detailed and thus easy to visualise setting. The realism that shines through here assists in keeping us grounded in the four’s story. It is the breaks in the friendship that are what make this story so strong. We all know what it is like to fall out with friends or family, (or most of us do), it is a battle of wills and a learning curve of give and take. Pierce handles all this skilfully. The Empress is a master manipulator who has power to back herself up. She is a spoilt brat in many ways and it is nice to occasionally see those cracks in her persona. The way the four young mages work through what has gone before and what is happening now is an interesting journey and the overarching story is one that allows us to see how each of these youngsters have grown.

Once again Pierce has created a wonderful adventure within a fantastic world.

Highly Recommended.

Publisher: Scholastic US

Published: 01 October 2008

Format: Paperback 550 pages

Categories: Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

ISBN 13: 9780545074551

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of the page

Melting Stones

melting-stonesBy: Tamora Pierce

Evvy has been an apprentice stone mage for four years now. She really doesn’t want to be on another journey with her mentor, Rosethorn but she finds herself accompanying her and Dedicate Myrrhtide, a water mage, to the Battle Islands. Something is causing the plants and animals to die and it is up to Rosethorn and Myrrhtide to find out what, it is Evvy’s job just to listen and learn. Evvy isn’t so good at the keeping quiet though and she soon discovers something important. With the help of her friend Luvo (a living stone heart from a mountain) she knows it is up to her to help save some ungrateful people from total destruction.

Evvy is a wonderful character, rough around the edges and hard as the stone she is attuned to.  She isn’t so good with people and that makes her an interesting character in a context where dealing with people is important. The environment of the Battle Islands is detailed, and layered. Pierce gives wonderful descriptions of the land and how the different inhabitants interact. The village has tensions all of it’s own that contribute to the overall emotion of the situation. Rosethorn tempers Evvy and if you’ve read the other Circle books you know this is a slight turn around as Rosethorn is usually the most abrupt. The introduction of Luvo is interesting because he adds some weight and age to the tale, he is a solid centre for Evvy and a great source of wisdom.

A wonderful stand alone book that Pierce’s fan will enjoy. I will say this fits best into the YA category though a good reader 10+ would also be okay with it.

Recommended.

Publisher: Scholastic US

Published: 01 August 2010

Format: Paperback 312 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Adventure

ISBN 13: 9780545052658

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

Cold Fire

cold-fireBy: Tamora Pierce

The Circle Opens Bk 3

Daja Kisubo and her teacher Frostpine are wintering with friends of his in Kugisko. It is a port location made up of many islands. A strange place for fire mages to holiday. It is here though that a series of strange fires happen. Daja takes it upon herself to assist local firefighter Bennat Ladradun in fighting them. She soon realises that things may not be what they seem when it becomes clear that someone is setting the fires deliberately. Daja decides to use her magic to create something that will hopefully help in fighting the flames. All whilst finding tutors for the two young mages she has discovered. Daja then experiences something terrible, betrayal.

Daja’s story is a little different from the others who find themselves with students because she is somewhere where both young mages can find masters, even though she does for a while take over some of their learning. It is in this process she finds out more about herself, and a little about thinking outside the norm, something she should be quiet used to. It is nice to see Daja find someone who treats her more as an equal than a young girl who shouldn’t have the mage qualifications she does. 

The world Pierce has created is crisp and clear in its descriptions, all the snow and frozen activities, it is all so easy to picture. The complex nature of magic is given plenty of attention here as we see Daja’s skills, as well as cooking magic and carpentry magic bought clearly to life. Pierce also uses the juxtaposition of fire and ice effectively in this tale. This is a fitting instalment to the series. It is a pleasure to see each of these characters grow into their own. Once again Piece has excelled and given us a series I will no doubt return to again and again.

Highly recommended.

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 01 March 2003

Format: Paperback 355 pages

Categories: Fantasy, Magic

ISBN 13: 9780590396561

Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page

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