Friday, March 11, 2011

The Mermaid's Mirror- L.K. Madigan


"Lena has lived her whole life near the beach—walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves—the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.

But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman—with a silvery tail.

Nothing will keep Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.

And soon … what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life …"

Summary: I blogged earlier in the year about L.K. Madigan, who was facing stage IV pancreatic cancer. I entered a contest to win her two books and was one of the winners. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago L.K. Madigan passed away, however her books will live on. I have already reviewed Flash Burnout, her first novel, and very much recommend it. Now onto my review of The Mermaid's Mirror.

I don't usually read books that feature mermaids. I haven't actually come across many, but I feel like they are creatures that are hard to put into stories. L.K. Madigan however, was able to write them and this entire story brilliantly.

One thing I loved about this book, as well as Flash Burnout, is how wonderfully her characters are created. Lena, as well has her family and friends, are all incredibly real. They are unique too. I read a lot of books where the main characters or the secondary characters are sort of interchangeable, but the characters L.K. Madigan wrote are characters with specific quirks and personalities that I know I won't forget.

I thought that the way Lena was connected to the mermaids was well written. I also really enjoyed the great amount of thought that was put into the mermaids and their lives and culture. Although L.K. Madigan had intended to write a sequel before she dies, this book works very well as a standalone book, which I was very happy about.

Finally I would like to send my condolences to the authors family, and note that a college fund has been set up for her son if anyone would like to donate to it. Checks can be made out to the Nathan Wolfeson Trust and sent to:

Becker Capital Management, Inc.
Attn: Sharon Gueck/John Becker
1211 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2185
Portland, OR 97204
Rating: A-

Other Recommended Books:
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wither- Lauren DeStefano



"What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left."

Summary: Even though this book isn't due out until March 22, I read it thanks to this wonderful website that lets teens read and review books online for free.

Ever since I watched a few episodes of that TV show Sister Wives I have found the concept of polygamy interesting. There is a large social stigma against it in the United States, however, not all polygamist marriages are like the awful ones you hear about with child brides being forced into marriages with older men.

Anyways, when I heard about this book that was both dystopian and featured a polygamist way of life in order to try and produce more kids in a time when women die at age 20 and men at 25, I definitely wanted to read it.

I really loved this book. I think my favorite part were the characters. Even though I sympathized with Rhine for being stolen away to be a wife, it was hard to hate her husband Linden, who was clearly not the evil mastermind his father was. I loved watching the bond develop between Rhine and her sister wives. Even though the youngest, Cecily, was a little annoying, being forced into the situation they were in made friendships develop that really show sort of what it is like in a polygamist marriage with the wives in as much of a relationship of sorts with each other as they are with their husband. Obviously in a friendship sort of way.

And then there was Gabriel. The sweet, servant boy who Rhine befriends and who is the only one she can share her actual thoughts and feeling with.

I thought that the way Lauren DeStefano had with words made the story and all of the characters seem so real, and made a story, which sort of seems implausible, actually really work.

This is probably the third or so dystopian novel I've read this year that really had a focus not on the characters changing the entire world, but just changing their own lives, and I've found that to be a refreshing change. I honestly can't wait to see what happens from here and to read the next two books once they are released.

Rating: A

Other Recommended Books:
Matched by Ally Condie
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
The Declaration by Gemma Malley

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sapphique- Catherine Fisher

Warning: Sequel to Incarceron, will contain spoilers for said book.


"Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn's escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison's warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn's and Claudia's very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn't fully believe.

Meanwhile, Finn's oathbrother Keiro, and his friend Attia, are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron needs the glove too."

Review: Following up only a little while after the first book left off, Sapphique is just as exciting and mystifying as its predecessor.

Just as Incarceron was told, the story switches between the point of view of those inside the prison, and those outside of it. Only this time Finn is outside the prison, playing the role of Prince Giles. As another boy shows up claiming to be the same missing prince, it becomes unclear who is telling the truth, if either of them. Claudia must choose who to back in the battle, even as her own life is put at stake.

As for inside the prison, Attia and Keiro are still trying to escape. A new character, a magician named Rix, who may or may not have Sapphique's glove.

Another interesting character in the story continues to be the prison itself. It reminds me a lot of the house from that Disney TV movie Smart House, where the house comes to life and holds the family hostage.

Anyways, this book is a delightful, intensely exciting read, just as Incarceron was. More mysteries are revealed, including secrets about the very world Claudia lives in.

I would highly recommend this book and the entire duology to lovers of dystopian lit and steampunk.

Rating: A+

Other Recommended Books:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (If you really enjoyed Finn's part of the book)
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
A Great and Terrible Beauty Series by Libba Bray (If you really enjoyed Claudia's part of the book)