YA- Fantasy

All posts in the YA- Fantasy category

Valkyrie Rising

Published October 19, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

valkyrie rising cover

Review of Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson

Overview from www.bn.com: Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect that something powerful and ancient will awaken in her and that strange whispers will urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, suddenly there’s a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring, Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

My Review:

This week’s review is a paranormal Young Adult story. It is called Valkyrie Rising and recounts the story of our main character Ellie.

At the start of the story, Ellie is just another average teenager who feels like she is living in the shadow of her older brother, Graham. He is popular yet overprotective and because of his popularity very few boys her age are willing to cross him by asking Ellie out. The only one who is really even allowed to talk to her much is Tuck, her older brother’s best friend who she has a massive crush on. Tuck is also a major flirt so Ellie never takes anything he says seriously anyway.

Every summer, she and her brother take a trip to Norway to visit their grandmother while their mother is leading some university trip to Italy. (Their father has been dead for some time.) Although Ellie usually finds it somewhat boring she is relieved to be going this year because she senses that it is the only time she will be allowed to get out from underneath her older brother’s shadow since he is not as well-known there as he is at home in Los Angeles.

So off she goes, to be followed later by her brother. But on her first day there she already sees a difference in Skavopoll. The residents are hostile toward her. They tell her that she should never have come there and they seem to believe that her grandmother is somehow at the center of some plot to kidnap the boys of the town. A few of them have already disappeared and when she confronts her grandmother about this with questions, she receives very few answers and most of them are misleading.

Setting out on her own she vows to find the answers for herself before her brother and Tuck are kidnapped as well. (Tuck has decided to tag along on the trip with them this year.) But when no one will tell her anything, she will have to use her own intuition and sleuthing skills to find out what is happening both to the town and to her as she seems to suddenly have hypnotized the people of the town unintentionally. Where is she getting these strange powers? How can she convince people that she is not involved in the kidnappings? And how can she protect those who are left from becoming the next victims?

I liked this one quite a bit though I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I loved it. I learned a lot about Norway and Viking Mythology while feeling highly engrossed in the story. The story threw a few surprises my way both in some things that I expected to happen but didn’t (thank God there was no love triangle) and some twists that did happen yet I never saw them coming. In short, I was not bored. Also the book was not overly long.

The only downside was I thought the swearing was a bit much for a Young Adult novel though I have seen worse. I think perhaps it is best that the readers of this book be older teens and not younger but other than that, I give it an enthusiastic recommendation.

Contains: some swearing, fantasy violence

 

The Lost Code

Published July 13, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

the lost code cover

Review of The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson

Overview from www.bn.com:

Kevin Emerson’s The Lost Code, first in the Alanteans series, tells the story of a near-future earth ravaged by global climate change. Owen Parker is about to learn that it isn’t the first time the planet has been near destruction. Owen’s ancestors were part of an ancient race whose advanced technology once almost destroyed the world.

With the help of a mysterious, enchanting girl named Lily, Owen will have to understand his history and his genetic code to prevent global annihilation. He will also have to leave the bio-dome that keeps him safe and brave the post-apocalyptic wasteland beyond.

Teens fascinated by the dark dystopian world of Divergent and mythology of the Percy Jackson series will want to read The Lost Code.

My Review:

It has been awhile since I ventured into the world of Young Adult and this time when I do it I am also returning to the world of Sci-Fi. It is not a world that I visit often.

Well, to be fair, The Lost Code is really more of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy I think as it combines elements of the two. The summary I read from Barnes & Noble described it I think as dystopian. I had to look up exactly what that word meant to be sure and if I understand correctly it is the opposite of utopian.

But back to the book. Our story features a young guy named Owen. He lives about one hundred years into the future or thereabouts if I remember correctly. When we meet him he is at summer camp. Yep, they still have summer camp in the future apparently but it is not exactly the same as most summer camps most of us have been to I’m guessing.

Here they have archery and swimming but they also have games like “Predator/Prey.” I think you can figure out what that is about.

Anyway, it is during a swimming competition that we first see Owen. He desperately wants to win the contest because it will give him more camp privileges but at the same time he will have the chance to impress Lilly, an older girl who is sort of in charge of their group.

Problem is: Owen doesn’t swim well. In fact, he hardly swims at all. But surprising all goes well until he gets to the butterfly stroke and then he goes under. He nearly drowns. Lilly saves him but, as he finds out later, he had managed to survive underwater for eleven minutes. How did he do that?

The answer is as it turns out later, he has grown gills. And it turns out that a handful of kids at this camp have already grown gills. They find out about him and take him under their wings, or gills. Together they try to find out why they are changing and what they should do with their gills when the camp is invaded and Owen starts seeing things. Now, he is forced to take sides and find answers about his heritage.

This story is the first in a series called “The Atlanteans.” I believe book two just came out which is the reason for this being a Free Friday offering I presume. I might decide to read book two in the future but I am not sure yet. It was a good story but I don’t know if the budget will allow me to continue with the next one. We’ll see.

I liked the characters of Owen and Lilly. I even liked Evan and Leech who were mostly antagonists. The view of the future that is presented here is of course not the best one but it seems like it might get better now that Owen knows what he has to do.

Also, I liked how the story was mostly clean yet entertaining. There were a few four-letter words and some violence but nothing like some of the other books B & N has given away. I recommend for anyone fourteen and above. It’s a great read and it’s not too heavy.

Contains: some violence and language

For further information you can click on this link and watch the trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzCeUGHm_3A

I would post it myself but I can’t seem to figure out how to do this.

Brisingr

Published March 9, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

brisingr cover

Review of Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

Overview from www.bn.com: Oaths sworn . . . loyalties tested . . . forces collide.

It’s been only months since Eragon first uttered “brisingr,” the ancient language term for fire. Since then, he’s not only learned to create magic with words-he’s been challenged to his very core. Following the colossal battle against the Empire’s warriors on the Burning Plains, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have narrowly escaped with their lives. Still, there is more adventure at hand for the Rider and his dragon, as Eragon finds himself bound by a tangle of promises he may not be able to keep.

First is Eragon’s oath to his cousin, Roran: to help rescue Roran’s beloved from King Galbatorix’s clutches. But Eragon owes his loyalty to others, too. The Varden are in desperate need of his talents and strength-as are the elves and dwarves. When unrest claims the rebels and danger strikes from every corner, Eragon must make choices-choices that will take him across the Empire and beyond, choices that may lead to unimagined sacrifice.

Eragon is the greatest hope to rid the land of tyranny. Can this once simple farm boy unite the rebel forces and defeat the king?

My Review:

After a marathon reading event this past weekend, I finally finished Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. Brisingr is the third book in the series that began with the book Eragon.

The last book ended on such an exciting note that I was anxious for the story to continue but alas would have to wait until my copy from the digital library was available. Last weekend that day finally arrived and I tried to read as much as I could in order to finish the book before my two weeks were up. I finished after only seven days which include the marathon reading weekend I just mentioned earlier.

The book was all I hoped for and more. It tied up some loose ends and surprised me with a few revelations. The plot too continues to become more exciting, except for some of the dwarf debates. Lest you think the dwarf tunnels are all dull, the hatred that some dwarf clans displayed towards him comes to a head in this book.

Eragon and Saphira also mature while Murtagh and Thorn diminish emotionally as they suffer under Galbatroix’s dominion. Roran also continues to come into his own as he finally marries his true love, Katrina.

I am not sure what else I can say without giving away too many spoilers so I will try to convey some of it through my favorites quotes in the novel. This time I seemed to have focused a lot on description as I have been reading about how to write good description recently so most of my quotes will probably focus on that.

“The low mound of coals throbbed like the heart of some giant beast. Occasionally, a patch of gold sparks flared into existence and raced across the surface of the wood before vanishing into a white-hot crevice.” P. 24

“Bending their heads together, he and Hvedra rubbed noses. Eragon glanced away, feeling lonely and excluded.”  P. 371

Be forewarned that this book is a long one, so plan on devoting a lot of time if you plan to read it all the way through. I don’t think

It is not all bad though. It makes me really appreciate the work it must have taken to breathe fire into this story (pun intended). I think you will enjoy it too. I can’t wait to read the final book but for now I think I must take a breather from such long tomes.

Contains: war violence

Sweet Shadows

Published February 23, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

sweet shadows coverReview of Sweet Shadows by Tera Lynn Childs

Overview from www.bn.com:

Gretchen may have known she was a descendant of Medusa long before her sisters—after all, she’s spent her life fighting the monsters that escape the abyss—but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to teach the other girls the ropes. Can she rely on Grace and Greer, or even trust herself to keep them safe? Greer has pressing social commitments on her plate and precious little time to train in her newfound powers. But that wretched second sight won’t leave her alone, and her fabled heritage seems to be creeping into her fashionable life.

Grace has worries closer to home—like why her brother, Thane, has disappeared. He’s hiding something. Could it possibly be related to the secret heritage the triplets share?

With the warring factions among the gods of Olympus coming for them, the creatures of the abyss pushing into their world, and the boys in their lives keeping secrets at every turn, the three girls must figure out where their fate will take them and how to embrace the shadows of their legacy.

My Review:

In Sweet Shadows the stories of Gretchen, Grace, and Greer continue. A month or so ago I review the first installment of the series entitled Sweet Venom and loved it.

I had originally thought of buying Sweet Shadows as an e-book but thought the cost was high so I checked it out from the library instead. This seemed like a safe bet since I wasn’t sure how good this second book in the trilogy might be though I did notice that it was a little longer than the first.

The good news is that I was not disappointed—not in the least. The action becomes even more intense in this book even as the chemistry between each girl and her prospective love interest heats up. The most interesting relationship to me was the one between Gretchen and Nick.

At the beginning of this book we finally find out who Nick is and why he is so interested in Gretchen—or do we? When Nick first tells his story, Gretchen seems to believe him in spite of the fact that she’s not really the trusting sort.

Then half-way through the book, Gretchen hears another version of Nick’s story from someone else and is furious. With the help of the monsters who befriend her, she kidnaps Nick and gets yet another version of the original story he told her. Yet again, Gretchen is inclined to trust him but is understandably not willing to get burned again.

She vows to keep him at arm’s length to avoid getting hurt. The question is: will she succeed? Nick has already become a weak spot for her. Can she trust him? And perhaps more importantly, can she trust herself?

Meanwhile Grace and Greer are taking up more of the burden in both hunting monsters and solving mysteries. Grace discovers a way to control when and how she autoports while Greer discovers she has the gift of second sight and can use it to minimize the impact of some tragedies.

With these newfound discoveries they should be able to complete their mission. Unless someone kills them first, or right afterwards. In the meantime, they will have to find a way to contact the Gorgons and rescue Sthenno and Ursula before all Hades erupts. In order to find out if they can do it however, we will have to stay tuned for the third and final book.

Contains: some violence

Sweet Venom

Published January 12, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

Sweet Venom coverReview of Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs

Overview from http://www.bn.com:

Three teenage descendants of Medusa, the once-beautiful Gorgon maligned in myth, must reunite and embrace their fates.

Grace just moved to San Francisco and is excited to start over at a new school. The change is full of fresh possibilities, but it’s also a tiny bit scary. It gets scarier when a minotaur walks in the door. And even more shocking when a girl who looks just like her shows up to fight the monster.

Gretchen is tired of monsters pulling her out into the wee hours, but what can she do? Sending the minotaur back to his bleak home is just another notch on her combat belt. She never expected to run into this girl who could be her double, though.

Greer has her life pretty well put together, thank you very much. But that all tilts sideways when two girls who look eerily like her appear on her doorstep and claim they’re triplets, supernatural descendants of some hideous creature from Greek myth, destined to spend their lives hunting monsters. . . .

My Review:

Sweet Venom is a book that in some ways lives up to the title hints that it is a story about snakes—but not really. Because the only the snakes involved would probably be the ones on Medusa’s head, though the story never touched on that I can remember. There was quite a bit about the lady/monster herself since three of our main characters are her descendants but not about the snakes so much.

So then, the next logical question would be: What venom are they referring to and how is it sweet? The answer is the venom is something that the three “huntresses” are able to inject into a bothersome monster’s vein which will then send him or her back to the monster world where he or she belongs. The venom comes out of the huntress’ fangs that come out automatically when needed. And the sweet refers to the taste of the aforementioned venom. We know that it is sweet because one of the main characters, Grace, tastes and tells her sister Gretchen that it is. Weird, I know.

So now that we have got that out-of-the-way I can tell you my verdict. I liked it a lot. I liked the characters, especially Grace, and the story was certainly unique. The idea is that Medusa has gotten a bad rap down through the centuries due to the goddess Athena’s jealousy and has actually been keeping us mere humans safe from the monsters that want use and devour us. Well, later it’s her descendants that do it but you get the idea.

The descendant part brings us to Grace, Gretchen, and Greer who are the descendants mentioned. They were separately adopted at birth in hopes that they would come together when the time is right which of course is where the story starts. Gretchen is the one who has been fighting the creatures the longest so she becomes the mentor after her mentor Ursula mysteriously disappears.

Grace runs into Gretchen at a club and is literally carried off by her—eventually to be trained as a monster huntress herself. Then, shortly after Grace’s training is complete, they track down Greer who is more worried about her social standing than anything else.

This book is the first in a trilogy so the there are many unanswered questions for both the characters and the reader. I get the hint that some of the characters know more than they have divulged in this book but I guess if I want to know more, I’ll have to read the next book.  That of course the idea. There’s no third book yet but obviously there will be at some point.

In the meantime, I am thinking about actually purchasing the second book (this one was a Free Friday offering) since I enjoyed this one so much. I just got a Barnes & Noble gift card from a couple of people so I think I might use it towards that book and some others I have been wanting to buy. I recommend this one for both adults and teenagers.

Contains: some monster violence

Alice in Zombieland

Published December 15, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

alice in zombieland coverReview of Alice in Zombieland by Lewis Carroll and Nickolas Cook

Overview from www.bn.com: They were indeed a queer-looking party that assembled on the bank-the birds with draggled feathers, the animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable. All of them were covered in Alice’s now cold and congealed blood, which made them even tastier looking to poor hungry Alice.

When little Alice follows the Black Rat down into the gaping darkness of an open grave, she falls and falls. And soon finds herself in an undead nightmare of rotting flesh and insanity. Venturing further into this land of zombies and monsters, she encounters characters both creepy and madcap along the way. But there’s something else troubling poor Alice: her skin is rotting and her hair is falling out. She’s cold. And she has the haunting feeling that if she remains in Zombieland any longer, she might never leave.

Can Alice escape Zombieland before the Dead Red Queen catches up to her?

My Review:

Forgive me for this one if it’s not to your liking but I decided to step a little out of my comfort zone for this one. I had been curious about these books that seemed to come out of nowhere about three years ago.

It seemed to have started with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies but then I quickly noticed a whole slew of this new type of genre that combines the works of the classic author with some type of horror story. Zombies didn’t seem to predominate but I think there were also some that featured vampires.

I couldn’t believe anyone could murder the classics I had grown up with in this way but I have always believed that someday I should read one of them myself and give it a fair shot. Who knows? I might like it.

When I saw this book offered one Friday as a freebie, I figured it was a good of time as any to give it a shot. Still I put off reading it for a while until this week when I wanted a short book to finish out my week.

So what did I think? Well, I am not sure if I would exactly recommend it. It is not really my style. Zombies just don’t interest me that much. I don’t know why but I think it because they give me the creeps and eat brains–though this author’s zombies seem to prefer dead limbs instead.

Still I can’t say that it wasn’t educational. I finally have an idea of how these novels are done. I won’t say that I understand why people like to read them, because it certainly wouldn’t be my first choice of genre to read. However, I could have found worse ways to spend my time.

If you’re looking for some light entertainment and you’re not too grossed out by blood and dismembered limbs, this might be just the thing for you. However, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Contains: blood, violence and some scary illustration—might not be suitable for young children

Eragon

Published October 6, 2012 by myliteraryleanings

Review of Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Overview from www.bn.com: Now in paperback! Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.

My Review:

I have been looking through the books that I have been reading recently and realized that I have been neglecting a certain genre for a while—Fantasy. In an effort to remedy this, I looked through my local library’s digital library online to see if I could find anything promising when I remembered that I had always meant to get around to reading the Eragon series.

I searched for the first title in series and had to add myself to the wait list because it is apparently still that popular. Finally, after weeks of waiting I received an email stating that it was waiting for me to download in the next seventy-two hours.

I worried at first that I would not finish this one before my check-out period expired but it turns out that I needn’t have worried because I finished it in less than a week. Yes, it was long but I kept wanting to read just one more chapter to find out what’s next. Pretty soon one chapter turned into three and I had to force myself to stop sometimes so that I could get to bed or get something else done.

The story is the classic quest type of Fantasy novel where an ordinary teenaged boy, Eragon, finds a strange object while out hunting deer one day. Thinking it might be worth something, he decides to take it back with him. This becomes even more necessary when he is unsuccessful in killing any dear and has no money to buy food. He hopes that he can barter with the local butcher instead to buy some meat but when the butcher discovers where he found the stone, for this is what Eragon assumes the object is, he refuses to have any part of it.

He is later bailed out by a neighbor who forces the butcher to sell the meat to him instead. However, events are already set in motion but Eragon doesn’t know it yet until one night the “stone” hatches and out comes a dragon. The creatures are not known exist, except for the one that the king has, and yet here it is. Eragon decides to keep the dragon and the secret of its existence which is where his adventures start.

Eventually the king and his minions come looking for it and in the process his uncle, who raised him as if he were his own son, is killed. Eragon can’t go back home now for they know who he is and furthermore, he has vowed to avenge his uncle’s death. As he and the dragon leave the only home they know, they are joined by an aging story-teller who is more than he appears to be on the surface.

The story reminds me a lot of Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien. True the details of the quest are totally different but both stories retain all the great features the quest Fantasy novel should have. For example, the great advice by older and wiser characters than the hero. Before he dies, Aragon’s uncle tries to impart wisdom to both Aragon and Roran, his uncle’s son, with these words:

“’I have words for both of you. It’s time I said them…. First, let no one rule you mind or body. Take special care that your thoughts remain unfettered. One may be a free man and yet be bound tighter than a slave. Give men your ear, but not your heart.’” P.62

The second thing that I noticed was the great descriptive passages that both stories have. This passage is about a time when Eragon tries to use magic from afar without considering the toll that it will take on him.

“The drain on Eragon’s strength was sudden and massive, making his heart flutter like a dying bird. He gasped, eyes rolling. He struggled to sever the magic’s hold on him—to plug the breach through which his life streamed. With a savage growl he jerked away from the magic and broke contact.” P.327

I am running out of time here so I will list no more examples. If you want to see examples of how The Lord of the Rings compares, I can only suggest you read it. I also strongly recommend you read this one as well. It is well worth it.

Contains: very little objectionable material, some violence is all that I found.

Below is the trailer for the movie that tells the story of the book also, in a nutshell.