Thursday, August 30, 2012

Home from the Sea

Home from the Sea: An Elemental Masters Novel
By Mercedes Lackey

Mari Prothero lives by the sea, with her fisherman of a father.   Ever since she was a little child, she has seen things that others don't see: colors in the sky and little creatures in the water that talk her even though she ignores them.  When she finds out that her mother was Selch, a half-seal and half-human, and that her mother did not die when Mari was young, her world is turned upside down.  She is expected to fulfill the next generation of the Prothero legacy, wed a Selch and bear his children in return for luck at sea.  In addition to all of this, Mari has the potential to be an Elemental Master of Water, and enlist the aid of all those little creatures that she has always seen.

In walks Nan and Sarah, two young ladies that have been traveling the world.  Both have psychic gifts, Sarah as a medium, and Nan as her psychical warrior guardian.  Together they work to help spirits cross over to where they belong.  Having come back from their world travels, they feel slightly useless and out of place until Lord Alderscroft, the "Wizard of London", sends them out seeking some information.  A Water Master has arisen, and he wants to know more about this new master.  He sends Nan and Sarah to find out about this new master and make sure he or she does not turn to the darker sides of magic.

When Nan and Sarah finally get to Mari's village, and find out she is the new elemental master, they are shocked.  Mari is being taught elemental mastery by a Selch, plus being courted by several others.  While assured Mari is not being led astray to dark paths, they become friends with Mari and want to help her.  Another new addition of a constable to Mari's small village adds further confusion and complications.  Mari has to figure out which Selch she wants to marry by winter, bear his children, learn how to master the water magic, and stay out of trouble all at the same time!

This newest installment in the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey is great.  I really liked getting an update on characters previously seen in the series- Nan and Sarah.  In the other book, they were children, so it's nice to see them older and wiser.  This book follows many of the themes and patterns set up in the other books in the series as well.  I liked it as much as the others in the series.  I would try to introduce this series to older teens, just because I feel it would interest them more than young teens.

I really liked the touch of romance in the book, while it had nothing inappropriate.   Also, Mari does things for herself.  She is bold, self-motivating and tries to have control over her own life.  At the same time, she is caring about those around her, and very considerate of her father.  This story follows her self discovery and her change from being merely a girl and daughter to a woman and elemental master!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Caught In Crystal

Caught in Crystal
by Patricia C. Wrede

Kayl has a busy life between her two kids and running a country inn.  Although it was nor her dream, she enjoys her current life.  Then a mysterious black carriage drops a more mysterious woman on her doorstep.  This sorceress of the Sisterhood of Stars is linked to Kayl's past, a past she has carefully stayed away from.  When another old friend appears, she knows she has to face her past and the demons that haunt it.

As Kayl journeys with her family back to the Sisterhood's headquarters, the past becomes more important than ever.  She finds that some of her memories are false, reconnects with more old friends, and has to face what she has been avoiding for decades.  Can Kayl solve the mystery of the tower and the figure out what is caught in the crystal?

I read this years ago, as a teen: enjoyed it then and now!  This book, and several other novels by Patricia C. Wrede, are being republished, and I am very excited to read them again!   This time I think I identified even more with Kayl than before.  It's hard as a teen to imagine life as an adult, like Kayl.  But even as a teen, the story drew me in, and captivated my attention.  Now, understanding the responsibility of an adult, I can understand Kayl's motivations even better.

Overall, this is a classic fantasy story that has touches of romance and intrigue.  Readers that have not read any other novels from Lyra will be comfortable with the world, and this would be a great introduction to Lyra for any reader.  This is appropriate for most any age, but probably most interesting for ages 14+.  Great book, and an awesome writer!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dragonsong and Dragonsinger

Dragonsong and Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey

Menolly was raised in a sea hold, learning to fish and sail with everyone else.  But her true dream is to be a harper, playing her pipes and writing new songs.  Encouraged by the resident harper, she learns many musical skills, and her love for music only increases.

When the harper dies, her hopes of becoming a harper die with him.  Her father demands that she does "useful" work, hides her from the new harper, and forbids any music in her life.  When Menolly cuts her hand and it gets infected, she is even further discouraged in her dream.  Depressed and looking for something different, Menolly runs away.

In her struggles to survive outside of her hold, Menolly not only finds fire lizards, a rumored beast like a small dragon, she also manages to impress nine of them at a hatching.  With her nine friends she has to keep feed but who keep her company, she starts on a new life.

These two books are a great introduction to the fantastic world of Pern.  They are suitable for young teen readers, where most of the other Pern books by McCaffrey I would only recommend to older teens, due to some mature content.   Dragonsong and Dragonsinger also help the reader understand some of the basics of the world of Pern.

I like how these two books are not focused on the famous dragon riders, but instead focus on a normal girl.  I think a lot of girls would really identify with Menolly and her difficult relationship with her father.  She wants her life to be one way, but he has other ideas.  She struggles to find a place in that world that she likes, and since she can't find one, decides to find a world that she can fit into.  Menolly shows strength, tenacity, and courage, something we can all use in our own lives.

Dragonsong and Dragonsinger are books that I find myself coming back to every so often.  The writing is well done, like everything McCaffrey does.  Menolly is a character many people can relate to.  Any dragon lover should read these books!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

David and Leigh Eddings

David Eddings!  Another of my favorite authors!  Although most of his books say only his name, he later added his wife, Leigh's, name to his books and admitted that she was such a huge help to him that she deserved the credit.  Together they have created several fantasy worlds that are definitely worth reading!

Some things that characterize their work: most of their books have some truly epic range, both in characters, world size, and shear scope!  The series that starts with Pawn of Prophecy has 13 books, spans thousands of years, and sees the downfall and rise of gods.   The Elenium and Tamuli has similar scope, if not the same length. While The Redemption of Althalus is a stand alone novel, it still follows that same epic pattern.

The Belgariad and Mallorean series begin withe Pawn of Prophecy and follow the adventures of Garion, a farm boy thrust into kingship by a heritage he knew nothing of.  Magic, gods and war follow him wherever he goes.  This is one of my all time favorites!  I try to read this series every year or so, it's that good.  I never get tired of it.  Garion is a brilliant character, and the reader gets to see him grow and change from a boy with no knowledge of the world, to one of the major players in it.  Great story, that grows as Garion does.

I would recommend any of the books by David and Leigh Eddings to people of almost any age.  I love the Elenium, the Tamuli, the Belgariad, and the Mallorean series. I also really enjoyed reading The Redemption of Althalus.  While they did write another series called The Dreamers, I did not like that series as well as the others.  These books are great for boys and girls alike, with elements that will interest and intrigue both!  They are well written, fun to read, and continually surprising.  I would recommend starting with Pawn of Prophecy, and read that series first.  Even kids as young as middle school aged would enjoy them.  The Elenium I would say are better for high school aged, and Redemption of Althalus would be around the same age.

Read some David Eddings!  He is wonderful!


Holes by Louis Sachar
Newberry Award winner, plus lots of other awards!

Stanley Yelnats is completely innocent, but still going to Camp Green Lake, a boys detention center.   On top of that, he is under a curse that started with his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather."   Not only is there NOT a lake at the camp, but he also has to spend his days digging holes bigger than he is.  As he spends his days "character building", he meets several boys with names like X-ray, Zero, and Squid.

Then, one day, Stanley finds something in his hole.  He shows it to his mentor, and gets the rest of the day off!   Stanley begins to wonder why they are digging holes, what was it that he really found, and what is the camp warden really looking for?

I can see a lot of boys really liking this book!  The humor is great and the dialogue is really witty.  Connections and mysteries build and unfold throughout the book.  Nothing even remotely girly about this book!  A lot of guys could find similarities with Stanley.

Stanley is a great character because he is very much like a real kid.  He's overweight, used to being bullied, and not very confident in himself at first.  His growth is gradual, and believable.  As he make decisions, he sees the consequences and has to live with them.

Overall, this was a pretty good book.  I had a hard time getting into it at first, but that might have been because I tried to listen to it on CD.  Definitely read this!  I had a great time reading it!