Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Swine flu and reviews

It's a good thing I got the flu BEFORE I went to BEA, because apparently all the YA authors gave it to each other. Say yes to immunity! And now, for a couple reviews:

The Healing Wars Book 1: The Shifter
by Janice Hardy

Young Adult Fantasy

Due October 6, 2009

Nya is a Taker, which means that she has the ability to absorb the pain of others just by touching their skin. What sets her apart from Healers, however, is the fact that she can't deposit the pain into the magical stone pynvium, and must hold it inside herself until she can shift it into someone else. Shifting, however, is considered a myth--and if the leaders of her community discovers her ability she will be forced to work as an assassin. When her sister, a Healer, disappears, Nya's investigation reveals that something terrible is happening on her island. She may be forced to use her power in ways she'd never dreamed of. This book was exactly what I was in the mood for last week. I meant to save it for the flight to BEA, but I ended up finishing it before I left. The world that Janice Hardy has created is complex without being confusing, and her characters are well-developed but accessible. THE SHIFTER is the first book of a trilogy, and I can't wait to read the rest.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley
Adult Mystery

Available now in hardcover

Flavia de Luce, the heroine of this 1950's-era mystery, is possibly my favorite character of all time. Eleven years old, she is an aspiring chemist with a passion for poisons. She spends most of her time in her ancestor's Victorian chemistry lab in the attic until a dead body turns up in the garden. Flavia must solve the murder before her father is convicted. My favorite part of this book is Flavia's outlook on the world: she is incredibly smart and analytical, but at the same time she is eleven years old with all the frustration and unfairness that comes with the territory. Her relationship with her older sisters is downright hysterical, and I kept wanting to run to my computer and share quotes with the world. (Unfortunately, I was on a plane so that wasn't possible.) Whether you are a precocious 11-year-old or a 70-year-old philatelist or a 30-year-old chemist or a 24-year-old bookseller, you will LOVE this book.

by Kristin Cashore

Young Adult Fantasy

Due October 2009

This is the long-awaited prequel to Graceling, which was one of my favorite books of 2008. I admit I was a little concerned that it would disappoint, simply because I loved Katsa so much that I couldn't imagine a book without her in it. Fire, however, is an equally compelling character, and having read both books I'd be hard pressed to say which is my favorite. I don't want to say much about the plot because part of the glory of this book is the way the reader pieces together the details. Suffice it to say that it took me forever to read Fire because I had to read every sentence twice: first to get the meaning, and then again because I wanted to appreciate the way Kristin Cashore writes. She is so good at identifying normal emotions and making them beautiful. Every one of her sentences is like a poem. I can't wait for Bitterblue, the next book.

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