Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Shamer Chronicles

The Shamer's War is the final book in the thrilling series, The Shamer Chronicles. It began with The Shamer's Daughter and continued with The Shamer's Signet and The Serpent Gift. I won't give a description of The Shamer's War because it would give spoilers for the first three books for those of you who haven't had the exciting chance to read them yet! So I'm going to write on the first book, The Shamer's Daughter and give you the basic gist of it. Because, honestly, you are truly missing out by not reading these fantastic book by the amazing author Lene Kaaberbol.

Dina has inherited her mother's "gift" - being a Shamer. But Dina in no way finds the ability to force people to look into your eyes and cause them shame for past wrongs a gift. Especially since neither do the fellow villagers. Despite being only 10 years old, no one will look her in the eye. And deep down, Dina understands it is because looking into a Shamer's eyes only brings back past despair - but it can't help but be a little lonely.

But Shamer's do have a practical purpose which outweighs the overall feeling of fright by others. When any crimes have been committed the villagers simply call upon the Shamer who can easily (well, not exactly easily since the Shamer sees everything the criminal saw, felt, etc., when looking in their eyes) determine guilt or innocence and turn a raving, bloodthirsty murderer into a sobbing mess.

It's on a call like this that her mother goes on - and doesn't come back. Her brother Davin and her little sister Melli can't help but worry. And when a messenger from where her mother is working comes and says Dina's help is needed, she jumps at the opportunity to get to her mother.

But what awaits her there is only the beginning of a nightmare and she learns that the worst enemy she can have is one without shame.

I don't know if that's enough or not to get you intrigued, but I just hate giving stuff away.

And don't be scared off by Dina's young age - she is surprisingly mature and reads much older and wiser than her young years on the page.

These books aren't afraid to go where other books don't. Bad stuff happens. But also wonderful, poignant friendships and courage are highlighted - and not in a schmaltzy, corny way.

It can be truly frightening, heart-pounding thrilling - you never lack a reason to be on the edge of your seat. There are occasions that make you laugh - and especially parts that make you cry.

The Shamer Chronicles are full of political intrigue, espionage, original fantasy concepts and ideas, and plenty of realistic family interplay.

I love, love, love these books and was breathless to the very last page. I am sad that the story is over but also extremely satisfied with the excellent conclusion. Don't miss out on reading and rereading this phenomenal series!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Dragons of Ordinary Farm

This tale from fantasy writers' Tad Williams and Deborah Beale centers on siblings Tyler and Lucinda, whose divorced parent's seem more interested in their new, independent lives than them. When they receive an odd, out-of-nowhere invitation to Ordinary Farm from an uncle they've never heard of, they're dismayed when their mother leaps at the opportunity to get them a place to stay while she goes on a single's retreat. What ensues is more than either or them expect or bargain for.

Despite it's childish looking cover, Dragons was a page-turner and certainly not condescending in it's writing. In fact, the cheerful little girl on the dragon? Yeah, it doesn't quite happen that way. Anyway, my point is: I'm 21 and I loved it, so don't let the cover scare you away.

The Dragons of Ordinary Farm managed to be original, creative and fresh, while being spooky, suspenseful and awesome! Lucinda and Tyler were believable as siblings - and both of them likable. They succeeded, in my opinion, where Jake Ransom and the Shadow of the Skull King failed - making a brother and sister likable, relatable and realistic. The adventure was new and not a retread of anything else. There are many plots and twists that make every chapter exciting - plus the humor is almost surprisingly current and laugh-out-loud.

I am eager and hopeful to find out that there will be many more books involving this anything-but Ordinary Farm! I think any fans of Harry Potter and fantasy in general will agree!

Check it out June 2nd!!!

P.S. I'm hoping to blog about it soon, but DEFINITELY check out the Shamer Chronicles by Lene Kaaberbol (starting with The Shamer's Daughter). One of the best fantasy/adventure series I've ever read!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Being Nikki

There isn’t a Meg Cabot fan out there that needs any convincing to go pick up her new book, the sequel to Airhead, Being Nikki. In fact, I almost don’t even need to know what her books are about to go out and buy them. There’s a certain trust with an author this consistently great. However, some of us need a bit more info. So, here goes.

Em Watts is still reeling from the fact that her brain is now inside Nikki Howard’s supermodel, celebrity body. She still can’t believe she’s honoring modeling contracts because otherwise the man who “saved” her life, Richard Stark, will sue her parent’s for the full cost of her surgery, not to mention all the legal problems. Then there’s the fact that she has a strong suspicion that the Stark company is watching her at all times, not to mention tracking her computer usage.

But none of that’s as bad as being dead (literally) to her best friend, the guy she loves. And, technically, Emerson Watts is dead. Which makes it a bit difficult to communicate with him.

Nevertheless, Em soon learns things can get even more complicated as Nikki’s formerly mysterious family life begins to come to light and darker twists and turns abound.

I don’t want to give away too much – I’m one of those super-spoiler-paranoid reader’s who doesn’t even read the inside jacket of a sequel. So, this review will be pretty darn devoid of details. But I’ll tell ya one thing:

It’s awesome!!!

There were AT LEAST five times within the course of Being Nikki that I literally said, either verbally or mentally, “WHAT?” In the best way possible, of course.

Meg Cabot keeps the shocks and surprises coming. Not to mention the laughs! I loved Airhead, but Being Nikki takes what I expected of a sequel and turns it on its head. We have the incredible cast of characters she gave us in the first novel – the lovable Lulu, the needy dog Cosie, her popular-desperate sister Frida, the newly somber Christopher – and many new ones. Meg did so much more than the anticipated – it was suspenseful, paranoid, sci-fi, funny, romantic, relatable, mysterious to the max, and full-out freaking awesome! Did I mention that?

And now I am utterly and completely depressed that I have to wait, possibly, another year for the next book, Runaway! The cliffhangers in the last pages were enough to leave me breathless.

But ain’t that typical of Meg?

So, go out and buy yerself a copy of Being Nikki – and don’t forget to have your inhaler handy.