13 March 2012
Froi of the Exiles, Melina Marchetta (Gr 9+)
Coming 13 March 2012 – TODAY!
Candlewick. Review copy provided by publisher.
“Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home…or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior’s discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.”
Remember how much I loved Finnikin of the Rock? No? Then click the link or just scroll down a little ways and remind yourself, because woah did I ever LOVE that book! Finnikin was my gateway into Melina Marchetta fangirlishness, and Froi of the Exiles has cemented her as one of my all time favorite authors (so did Jellicoe Road, more on that another time).
Froi’s story picks up a few years after Finnikin’s left off. The Lumaterans are back home in their own country and starting to rebuild. There’s a lot of hurt left for this country and a divide between those who were in exile and those who were trapped inside. Froi has found a place for himself with the Guard and has started to really feel like a Lumateran. He has decided to devote his life to protecting Queen Isaboe, Queen’s Consort Finnikin, and their young daughter. Froi has also decided to become a character I love instead of one I don’t actually like much at all. He has grown and developed into a main character to root for, one whose story will haunt readers.
Elsewhere in the world, trouble is brewing. The nearby country of Charyn, under the rule of a mad king, is in the grips of a disastrous curse, one almost more devastating than the one on Lumatere. The women of Charyn have all been barren for eighteen years. The Charynites have started to leave their wasted homeland and have formed an uneasy truce with the Lumateran Monts. Now the Lumaterans are faced with exiles living in their land and must decide whether or not to help them. Queen Isaboe believes the best way to deal with Charyn is to send Froi in to the country undercover to assassinate their king. I love the way Melina Marchetta deals with issues of tolerance, refugees, and many other modern day topics. She makes readers think about contemporary themes in a fantastical world.
12 March 2012
Born Wicked, Jessica Spotswood
Putnam Juvenile, February 7th, 2012. Review copy provided by publisher.
“Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship–or an early grave.
Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with six months to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word… especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate stars scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.
If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood — not even from each other.”
The Cahill sisters are witches in a time when being a witch, or even a strong woman, means life imprisonment or death. Their world is controlled by the Brotherhood, an all male religious order that imposes strict rules of conduct. Cate Cahill has been trying to supress her magic and that of her sisters for their own protection, but the girls are getting stronger. With their mother gone, and a new governess in the house, and only a few months before Cate must either announce her engagement or join the Sisterhood (the Brotherhood’s female counterpart) the stage is set for some serious historical supernatural drama!
Cate is an interesting character. She seems to want nothing more than to disappear into the world she lives in. She doesn’t want anyone to notice her, or her sisters, but she can’t help but stand out. She is strong, brave, and caring. I loved her instantly. Cate’s journey throughout the novel is one that will keep readers turning pages and longing for the sequel to come out faster! Her sisters were slightly less developed characters, but still intriguing. Maura, the middle sister, was particularly interesting to me. She’s a very angry character and has complicated relationships with those around her. She seems to be desperate for love and acceptance. I’d love to get a little (or a lot) of her perspective in the next novel.
Jessica Spotswood has created a compelling, interesting world. Her United States was colonized, but never pulled away from England. The big city is called New London, the overall feel of the place is very British, and magic permeates everything (whether the Brotherhood wants it to or not). This is a great book for teens who enjoy historical fantasy and romance.
29 February 2012
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
Dutton Juvenile, January 10th, 2012. Reviewed from purchased copy.
“Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumors in her lungs… for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumors tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.”
Review in 75 words or less:
28 February 2012
Finnikin of the Rock, Melina Marchetta
Candlewick Press, February 9, 2010. Reviewed from purchased copy.
“Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp of manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere. But Evanjalin’s unpredictable behavior suggests that she is not what she seems — and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her, but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.”
This was my first experience with Melina Marchetta, but it will not be the last. Actually, it opened a floodgate of fan-girlishness that has made her one of my all time favorite authors. Marchetta’s voice is so unique – it flows over the reader so effortlessly that it makes reading her books a true leisure activity. I fell incredibly easily into Finnikin’s world. I had (and still have) a very vivid picture of the land, the people, and the cities in my imagination. Marchetta world builds in a way that any author would be jealous of, so that the reader is totally unaware of it. This was the sort of book that took over my imagination so completely it made it difficult to read a new book once I’d finished. Which, let’s face it, is an awesome problem to have.
The characters who populate this land are diverse, interesting, and will work their way into readers’ hearts. Finnikin is everything you could want in a main character – he’s brave, stubborn, angry, and loyal. Readers will be instantly drawn to him. The secondary characters are abundant, but all of them have their own personalities and places in Marchetta’s story. I was just as attached to some of them as I was to Finnikin (Travanion, Sir Topher, Evanjalin!). The only secondary character who I could never make my mind up about was Froi. Do I hate him or love him? I really wasn’t sure until I read Froi of the Exiles (review to come), which I’m sure is exactly what Marchetta intended.
This novel will pull readers in and force them to keep turning pages. I absolutely loved it and recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys fantasy, strong characters, and amazing world building. I just can’t say enough good things about Melina Marchetta!
24 December 2011
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