Saturday, June 29, 2013

Troubletwisters #1 by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Troubletwisters (Troubletwisters, #1)This is the first book in the series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Jaide and Jack are twins, and some strange things have started to happen. Their father shows up, which is unusual, and their house is destroyed. The kids are shipped off to their grandmother's house, where they discover that they have some unknown powers. Grandma X is a Warden, and the kids will someday become Wardens to guard the world against The Evil. However, troubletwisters cause problems as they learn to control their new powers. The Evil tries to lure the twins away from their grandmother, so it can take over their powers. Things look bad when Jack is trapped below ground, alone, and he's overwhelmed by creatures controlled by The Evil. Later, Grandma X is unconscious and near death, so Jaide and Jack must battle the enemy forces on their own.

The plot is similar to many others in which characters must discover their hidden talents. This plot is a little different, because the kids are pretty much left to discover their talents on their own. There is a belief that more trouble can come if information is revealed before its time, so Grandma X and the father don't share much to help the kids. This strategy kind of backfires and creates problems of its own. The authors were able to keep the action moving, and the resolution leaves itself open to the second book in the series.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Scumble by Ingrid Law

Scumble (Savvy, #2)This book is the sequel to Savvy, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Ledge is waiting for his thirteenth birthday when his savvy, or special ability, will be revealed. He discovers that he can't control electricity, talk to animals, or change the weather, but he has an uncanny knack for destroying things! He travels to Wyoming for his cousin's wedding, and he's totally embarrassed when he accidentally tears down the barn after the ceremony. What good is a savvy that breaks things? In addition, there's a snooping girl who's trying to uncover his family's secrets, and her father is foreclosing on many homes and businesses in the town. Ledge must learn to scumble, or get his savvy to be in harmony with the world, and he must discover some way to save his uncle's farm. Can he accomplish these things before destroying the town first?

If you enjoyed Savvy then you will enjoy this book. Although the plot is a little unusual, the theme behind it is not. Ledge must learn to accept himself for who he is and not worry so much about the expectations of others. The strength of the book is in its characters, and the plot comes to a happy resolution.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Last Apprentice #11: Slither by Joseph Delaney

Slither (The Last Apprentice / Wardstone Chronicles, #11)This book is the eleventh in the series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Slither is another blood-sucking creature, but he makes a deal to protect a farmer's daughters in case of his death. Slither must deliver two of the daughters to relatives, but he gets to keep the third daughter to sell into slavery. Along the way, he ends up killing another high mage and two assassins, so he must travel to the city of Valkarky to plead his innocence in front of their court. He discovers Grimalkin being held prisoner in the dungeons, but he knows nothing about her great powers and ruthlessness. In the end, Slither must fight to save their lives, but will the fight be against Grimalkin, or with her?

I almost didn't read this book, because it has all new characters and a new setting. It seemed strange to abandon the characters and plot from the first ten books in the series, but Grimalkin tied them together in the last fourth of this book. The plot was interesting, but I found the newness of the setting and terms to be a little distracting. Not necessarily bad, but it was something else for me to think about. Grimalkin returned to her land in the resolution, so I assume the "regular" characters in the series will meet up with Slither in a future book.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Last Apprentice #12: I Am Alice by Joseph Delaney

I Am Alice (The Last Apprentice / Wardstone Chronicles, #12)This book is the twelfth in the series, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Alice is in the Dark, a place where all dead, evil creatures and witches go, trying to retrieve the dagger that will help Tom Ward destroy the Fiend once and for all. Alice meets up with Thorne, an apprentice to Grimalkin, the witch assassin, and she guides Alice through the different domains in the Dark. There are many powerful witches and creatures who would like kill Alice and finish off Thorne for good. Thorne leads Alice into a small village that may allow her into the Fiends domain. However, someone from Alice's past, someone she once killed, awaits them. And the more Alice uses her magic in this world, the closer she comes to becoming a fully malevolent, evil witch.

I felt a little disconnected from the plot; I felt like Alice and Thorne were just wandering from place to place in the first half of the book. There were several chapters that flashed back to Alice's time with Boney Lizzie, and they explained a missing part of her life. The plot seemed to have more direction after this flashback. Their quest became clearer and more focused, and the plot was less interrupted. Some information from Grimalkin at the end of the book made the whole plot seem anticlimactic.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)This book is on the 2014 Battle of the Books list, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Katsa's Grace, or special ability, seems to be killing people, and it takes all of her efforts to control it when she's angry. She is sent on missions by her king to threaten people into following his wishes. However, Katsa and some others form a Council to undertake secret tasks and to help people who have been wronged. She rescues the kidnapped grandfather of a peaceful kingdom, but no one can figure out why he was taken in the first place. Katsa has an encounter with a grandson, who has a disturbing Grace, and they set out to uncover the secret. Their exploration leads to an unlikely foe with a Grace no one even knows about. It is a power that even Katsa may not be able to overcome.

Overall, I think I enjoyed the plot enough to give this book a rating of five, but there were some parts that moved too slowly for me. There was a good deal of adventure and suspense, and the climax kind of took me by surprise. It was fun to read about a female protagonist, even though she was a killer with no sympathy for her victims. Katsa's struggle to control her Grace made her behavior unpredictable at times. That's a good thing. I liked the interaction between Katsa and Prince Po, and his cousin, Bitterblue, was another interesting character. The falling action and resolution of the plot took several chapters as some other surprises were revealed.