Posts Tagged ‘suspense’
Despite the tragic events of her first expedition, Isabella remains determined to continue her study of dragons. In their natural habitat, if possible. Now there is an added urgency to her research, as Isabella – and her colleagues and sponsor – fear that new information about dragon skeletons may threaten their survival. When the crew set off to a spot in Eriga known as the Green Hell in search of the swamp-wryms who dwell there, they are forced to face not only inhospitable habitats, but dangerous politics as well.
As I said in my review of the first book in this series, Brennan is attempting to do a thing here that I appreciate but I’m not quite certain about: Lady Trent’s world is clearly a colonial one, with all the problems and attitudes that creates, and Isabella has not been immune to such conditioning. Her years of travel and research have taught her to view the world slightly differently, however, and so the Lady Trent that is narrating the expeditions has a less colonialist view than the Isabella whose actions we see. It often becomes a clever way to acknowledge the problems of colonialism while being realistic about the kind of views a woman of Isabella’s position would have. I’m just not sure that it always works.
That said, I still absolutely adore these books as they are full of wonderful things that I love to pieces. Dragons! of course. Interesting ones that are as varied as any other real genus. Clever women who do Science! You get the idea. And running through it all, Lady Trent’s engaging personality and the pleasure of reading about an accomplished woman with a full life.
Maia has lived his life in exile, cast out with his mother from his father’s court. Since her death he has been raised by a courtier who was more than happy to take his frustrations out on the friendless boy. With three older brothers, no one ever expected the half-Goblin Maia to ascend to the throne. But when a suspicious accident leaves the king and the elder princes dead, Maia is thrust into a dangerous and unfamiliar court. Ostensibly the most powerful person in the land, Maia nevertheless is as isolated as ever. Only now he’s trapped by custom and responsibility, and is almost certainly a target by those who covet his crown. Determined to do right by his people, Maia must somehow find a way to make allies and root out his enemies.
An absolute pleasure to read, The Goblin Emperor is a story of intrigue and suspense told on an intimate rather than epic scale. Maia’s desire to be just and competent, to be the kind of ruler his people deserve, despite his lack of training, has us rooting for him from the start. Don’t be fooled by this novel’s idealistic point of view and steady unfolding of events, there is plenty of nuance here, and the narrative’s affirmation of the value of humanity (and goblinkind) is one based on a spectrum of experiences, not a black and white view of Good versus Evil.
I sincerely hope there is a sequel coming (or, at the very least, that we get more books by Addison) and I suspect this will become one of my comfort reads in years to come.
When disaster strikes the asteroid colony of Phoecea, it’s up to Jane Novio, manager of the Resource Commission, to figure out the logistics of how the colony is going to survive. With Jane soon dealing with a rogue AI, probable sabotage, and the Martian mob – all on top of a colony threatening water crisis and the aftermath of a tragic accident – the question quickly becomes if Phoecea will remain intact and functioning, not how.
This wasn’t a book that I fell into quickly, but when I did fall, I fell hard. It’s not just that Jane is both competent and interesting, and old enough to have experience and history. I also desperately loved how much the story was aware of how vital many of the mundane things we take for granted are. Living in California, especially now, the importance of access to potable water is something that is increasingly hard to ignore, and so I found the underlying crisis both relevant and believable. The supporting cast is great as well, and I’m realizing that I’m a sucker for good AI stories.
In very few – but well chosen – words and with soft but expressive pictures, Quay and Walker show the ups and downs of playing with friends, and the joys of playing pretend.
I don’t know if I’m just looking in the wrong places, but I have a hard time finding books for children that focus on the dramatic play they engage in every day. With the exception of Antoinette Portis’ excellent picture books, the act of imaginative play almost feels like the preschool set’s version of Fight Club: first rule of playing pretend, don’t talk about playing pretend. Which is very odd, not only because I have memories of picture books and easy readers that talked about it when I was young (perhaps it’s just books for toddlers in which the topic is lacking?), but also because it’s extremely common for young children to preface their play with “but just for pretend.”
Which is a very long winded way of saying: when I saw this book, I had to grab it. Short and cute, it’s perfect for older toddlers and exactly the kind of book that I’ve been looking for to add to my “imagination” story time.
When a deal to obtain supplies for a new Rebel base goes awry, Leia and Han – and crew – find themselves attempting to rescue a merchant ship from pirates. While the rebels fight and scheme for their lives, Leia also attempts to convince one particular band of pirates, refugees from Alderaan, to give up their mercenary ways and join the Alliance instead.
Can Wells write more Star Wars novels? please? pretty please?
I’m not going to pretend that this is a Hugo worthy novel, but it was fun. And managed to have a bit of depth in addition to being tons of fun. Best of all, Wells’ take on the characters must be very close to my own, because everything about them – Leia and Han in particular – was just spot on.
I’ve tried a few Star Wars novels before, and bounced off all but Zahn’s. But this is one of the rare titles that I’ve gotten through Netgalley that I’ve not only finished but immediately put on my list of books to buy.
Early one morning, Kami watches as his father and older brother prepare for the day. The climbers are coming soon, and Norgay and father have been hired act as their guides. But the family’s yaks are nowhere to be found. Can Kami find the yaks and save the day before it’s too late?
The story was nice and the illustrations were gorgeous, but unfortunately I was extremely distracted by the badly designed layout on some of the pages, which left a significant amount of the text hard to read.
Everybody lies. We say that we adore gifts that we hate, profess delight in meals that are lacking, and assure our parents that yes, our homework is all done. For most of us, the lying ends there. Not for Micah though, she doesn’t just tell the occasional white lie, she’s a compulsive liar. “But [she’s] going to stop.” She has to. So pay attention, because she’s going to tell you the truth and she’s “going to tell it straight. No lies, no omissions.”
Layer by layer, Larbalestier peels back Micah’s deceptions to expose the truth and banish the lies, but they are rarely what you’d expect. Micah doesn’t pretend to know bands that she has never heard of, claim to own trophies that she never earned, or fake an illness to get out of class. Rather, she decides to wear a Venetian mask to school – and forges a doctor’s note to justify it.
There is a peculiar and unexpected honesty in Micah’s fibs. False as they are, they also let her push against the edges of conformity and let Micah be herself without forcing her to claim to know who she is when she doesn’t yet. At the same time, they also act as role to play and hide behind – even from herself.
When her friend Zach disappears, however, Micah discovers that her lies might finally cost her more than just the goodwill of her peers. No longer simply a cathartic confession of past sins, Liar quickly becomes an especially twisted kind of mystery, with Micah’s admissions of falsehood and guilt taking on the urgency of someone both digging for the truth and fighting for survival.
The twists and turns that Micah’s story takes also do more than keep readers on their toes. Because of the way that the story is structured, the lies rely as much on our assumptions of what constitutes normalcy as they do on Micah’s audacity. It’s beyond brilliant, exceptionally appropriate in a novel for young adults, and Larbalestier deserves nothing but praise for pulling it off.
This is a novel that, like Micah, refuses to be boxed in. It’s not simply that it flirts with genres the same way that Micah plays with her identity. Rather, like Micah herself, how you classify it and how much you enjoy it will greatly depend on which parts of her story you choose to believe.
Larbalestier’s clear understanding of the fandom traditions of genre fiction bleed onto the page, demanding that the conversation expand beyond the reading of the book itself. Liar is a novel that is meant to be talked about, it’s value and interest is fundamentally tied to comparing notes and possibilities afterwards. The obvious conundrum is that spoilers for a book such as this – even mild ones – would also impose points of view that would limit the discussions afterwards.
So when I tell you that you must read it – and now – know that I say this not just because I adored it, nor because it is lacking flaws, but because I am eager to hear what you thought of it.
Larbalestier, Justine. (2009). Liar. NewYork: Bloomsbury.
Best for Ages: 14-18
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