I have returned from a visit to the chalk witches, personified in the form of Tiffany Aching. In A Hat Full ofCharming, moving, exciting, thoughtful.
I have returned from a visit to the chalk witches, personified in the form of Tiffany Aching. In A Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett, our heroine makes her second appearance (the first was in The Wee Free Men) and thoroughly captivates her audience. This is a character that could be friends with my Alfreda, I think--she is gently wise, very practical, and woven from the land where she was born.
In this tale, she has to go out and gain a bit of education, since witches aren't born knowing everything they should know. And she promptly gets herself into trouble, as she keeps one secret too many, and it's one that threatens Tiffany and everyone around her. Her friends the Wee Free Men, the six-inch-high pictsies (who may be the greatest thieves in the world) are always lurking, ready to lend a hand, track her down at a distance, save the day when they can, and make you laugh out loud. Pratchett proves that he's not only a master of fantastic comedy--he can do it in a YA novel, too, with all his gifts intact. This book is on more than one level, and well worth your time....more
This is a lovely coming-of-age story about a lonely sixteen year old girl, overly protected because she is one of the Chosen Ones, the special one ofThis is a lovely coming-of-age story about a lonely sixteen year old girl, overly protected because she is one of the Chosen Ones, the special one of her generation. Her mother is dead, her father and older sister busy with affairs of state. Elisa has turned to food for comfort, and this makes her the fat princess, as opposed to her beautiful sister. Elisa is secretly married off to a handsome prince, who needs her father's help but has a mistress he's missing, and Elisa has to cope with it all. She's away from home, perceived as a friend visiting a strange court, and then there's the living jewel in her belly button, the mark of her god that has gotten more than a few Chosen killed before they can do great things for their god and people.
But Elisa is not a weakling, despite her poor eating habits and lack of exercise. She saves her new husband's life before they even reach her new home. She slowly makes friends with her husband's little son...and she survives a kidnapping that takes her weeks into a desert where her choices are help the desert nomads fight their undeclared war, or die.
So a tale of emotional growth and unusual magic becomes an adventure novel. We even get several faces of young love in this story. I'll warn you that the last four chapters are riveting. Carson uses the subtle choices of Elisa's god to bring together the missions of Chosen Ones stretching back into history, people who may have seemed near mad or possessors of useless talents. How Elisa solves the mystery of the Chosen is fascinating.
If you like coming-of-age stories, this is definitely one to give a try!...more
Fans of the Valdemar books will know what I mean when I say that this book has a young adult feel to it. I would not recommend starting the series herFans of the Valdemar books will know what I mean when I say that this book has a young adult feel to it. I would not recommend starting the series here - I just happened to walk by it at the library, and thought I'd see what she was up to with newer Valdemar books. But if you've liked all the others, you will probably enjoy this one. They were favorite light reading fantasies at one point, but are not what I'm in the mood for right now.
Talking white spirit horses that are soul mates of young human trainees, who are messengers/circuit judges/warriors for their ruler. If that sounds interesting, definitely try the series!...more
This was an adult fantasy when first marketed/released. I think it would be one for teens as well now -- even mature YA. I remember I liked it a greatThis was an adult fantasy when first marketed/released. I think it would be one for teens as well now -- even mature YA. I remember I liked it a great deal on first reading, but have not re-read it in a few years. Still have it, though! This is a portal fantasy. Some lovely images in it, nice use of traditional fantasy tropes. A couple things I'd question now, thinking back, but only in plot choices. They might work great for others....more
As I recall, Balance of Trade won the Hal Clement Award for Young Adults for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction Literature—but don’t let its YA/As I recall, Balance of Trade won the Hal Clement Award for Young Adults for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction Literature—but don’t let its YA/teen origins keep you from reading the book. It’s not only an excellent coming of age story, it’s also one of the back door entries into the Liaden Universe®.
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s rousing, sometimes intricate romantic space adventures span centuries and many characters. Balance of Trade is a nice, clean explanation of why you’ll want to read more in the Liaden Universe. In this tale, we meet Jethri Gobelyn, a young teen living on a family space-faring trade ship. He knows a great deal about living and working in space, more than most about spotting a good trade, and a little bit about the mysterious people called Liadens.
In the best stories, of course, it’s what you don’t know that can hang you, and that’s what Jethri finds out. He knew Liadens were crazy about their honor, but he didn’t know that sometimes humans are not. He didn’t know that a poorly chosen word or an incorrectly performed bow could generate a duel—and he definitely didn’t know that his entire life, even his existence, was a carelessly constructed house of cards built upon his famous late father’s singularly poor decision, and his mother’s inability to forgive.
In the end, Jethri has to find his own apprenticeship, and he’s offered a unique chance—to train with a Liaden Master Trader, who believes that Terrans and Liadens must learn to deal with each other, and even learn from each other. What Jethri will find is that for himself, his friends and comrades, and even for his enemies—a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Jethri’s adventures make complete sense for someone who has lived on a small ship and is transitioning to larger ships and even (gasp!) planets, and by the end of the book, you’ll be glad to find out that another adventure, Trade Secret, awaits. I can’t promise you that all the mysteries will be solved—there are too many to be contained in one tale—but I think you’ll enjoy the ride, and there’s that second book, if you want it! ...more
One of the top three childhood books that changed my perception of life in general (the other two were THE SINGING TREE by Seredy and THE CHOSEN by PoOne of the top three childhood books that changed my perception of life in general (the other two were THE SINGING TREE by Seredy and THE CHOSEN by Potok, just to show that I'll try to read anything once.) It's time to re-read this one again. I am always swept up in the story, seeing it from the characters' POV and time/place in history. I may find that it will not hold up, looking at it with contemporary PC eyes.
But for adventure, and looking at the world Kipling saw, WOW....more
Sarah Zettel brings us a heroine mired in the horrors of the Kansas Dust Bowl of 1930's America. Callie has hidden from the world her entire life, notSarah Zettel brings us a heroine mired in the horrors of the Kansas Dust Bowl of 1930's America. Callie has hidden from the world her entire life, not because she is illegitimate but because her father was a black jazz musician who left her mother and never returned. What can happen in a dying small town to a white woman with a half-blood child is very dangerous indeed. Callie has enough problems without worrying that the voices in the dust mean she's going as batty as her mom.
But there is more to her mother's half-crazy contention that Callie's father will return for them--more to the elderly piano in the deserted hotel her mother scrupulously keeps clean. Because Callie's father was a fae, one of the Other people, and music is his power. Callie's mother suspects that something has gone terribly wrong, and that bad people are looking for them.
When a huge dust storm half-buries the town and sweeps her mother sway into another world, Callie finds herself alone and forced to make new friends and weigh whom she can trust. The other world is a strange place, and the spirits of many cultures clash within it. Zettel brings us small town dust bowl life with all its grit, and a crazy, glitzy vision of how the fairy world would hide in plain sight among humans. Callie may be the half-blood child born with a new power, one both wanted and feared. There are people who want her badly, and their reasons are murky.
But Callie is tough, smart, and willing to learn from her mistakes. And when she makes music? Worlds collide.
You will feel the magic, believe the danger, and never trust a dust devil again. This is the first of a series, and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one!...more
I really enjoyed this in my green days, a hero who depended on brain power and biology as opposed to muscles. Heinlein always weaves an interesting stI really enjoyed this in my green days, a hero who depended on brain power and biology as opposed to muscles. Heinlein always weaves an interesting story of the dark and bright side of a technological future, usually about how an individual can defeat odds and get their heart's desire. And although quirky his women/girls generally are not idiots or wimps.
Plus, no overt sex or bad language. So -- you probably know a teen who will enjoy this, if not for yourself!
Haven't re-read it yet, but I imagine I'll get around to it....more
I enjoyed this but there's a big disconnect in tone halfway through the story that suggests this should either have been two books, or structured diffI enjoyed this but there's a big disconnect in tone halfway through the story that suggests this should either have been two books, or structured differently....more
**spoiler alert** Recommended for lovers of “The Prisoner of Zenda” who always wanted a girl to save the day!
Are you ready for a contemporary Ruritari**spoiler alert** Recommended for lovers of “The Prisoner of Zenda” who always wanted a girl to save the day!
Are you ready for a contemporary Ruritarian romantic adventure that will take you to a small middle European country you will swear must exist – but doesn’t? (Don’t recognize the word Ruritarian? Go hit Wikipedia. I’ll wait. Seriously, think “The Prisoner of Zenda” as a feminist tale.) Then you’re ready for Sherwood Smith’s tale of an American girl who finds out that her roots are not what she expected – and that some secrets may be literally deadly.
Aurelia Kim Murray, a 23 year old history and language buff, has abandoned her position on her university’s champion fencing team to go in search of her roots. Her ill grandmother refuses to speak, and the family suspects Gran’s malaise is rooted in Europe, which she fled at the end of WWII, infant daughter in tow. The clues are slim, but Kim makes her way to Vienna and professional genealogy hunters.
Her questions turn out to be less innocent than she thinks, when a casual drink with an attractive native causes her to wake up on a train heading deep into Eastern Europe. Kim’s a fast thinker, and not afraid to toss her suitcase and herself out the window when the train slows near a town. Thus begins her adventures. It turns out that her grandmother was a princess of an obscure little Carpathian Mountain country, Kim is a dead ringer for her missing cousin Ruli, and that Kim apparently can see ghosts. By the time her fling in mythical Dobrenica is through, ghosts will seem almost commonplace compared to some things about this country.
In true Zenda fashion, Kim is talked into masquerading as her cousin Ruli in an attempt to smoke out the missing aristocrat. In the meantime, Prince Alec Ysvorod is dealing with a possible coup attempt, a wedding he and Ruli must perform, because magic, of all things, enters into it (And explains how the country literally appears on some maps of Europe, and is missing from others) and also growing curiosity about Kim.
You will be fascinated and stunned by the detail Smith has put into her tiny country. Kim is the best and worst of an LA just-past-teenager, too trusting for her own good, but not at the mercy of the scheming aristocrats and bureaucrats managing and mis-managing Dobrenica. The magic that is worked by the elders of the country – no matter what their religion, prayer, in any language, has a lot to do with magical power – is fascinating and mostly hinted at. Complexities in language and culture are smoothly handled, giving us a travelogue even as the mystery advances.
Kim’s grandmother gave up her share of the throne because she would marry only for love. But what happened to her? Who is Kim’s grandfather? And will Kim stand by and watch the man she is coming to love marry a woman he does not care for, to cement a peace with a restless faction?
You can write a Ruritarian homage in one novel, but if you want a happy ending, it’s going to take more than one book. Warning! Although many things are resolved, clearly, another book must finish Kim’s story. It only took me about 35 pages or so to forgive Kim’s annoying mannerisms and want to know what happened next. By the end I was rooting for her. Looking forward to the next one! ...more