Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Long Lankin

by Lindsey Barraclough

Goodreads Summary:
Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss. . . .When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don't know is that their aunt's life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries -- before it's too late for little Mimi. 

My Review:
I just finished the second book in The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey, The Curse of the Wendigo, when I began to read Long Lankin. I was looking for something scary, but not as disturbing as that story. On the whole, it delivers. The story starts slowly, and after the first 100 pages I was frustrated. But when the creepy whispers about a monster become true, and Cora seems to be convinced that she is mad, things get interesting.  There were quite a few areas that I had to reread because I was just plain confused. Towards the end, there is a massive unloading of information that seems to make everything fit, that took a few passes for me. Overall, if you can handle the slower parts, there is a payoff in this story.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Shadow and Bone

by Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads Summary:
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. 

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. 

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

My Review:
When I thought about reading this book, I was a little worried it would fall into the cookie-cutter mold we are starting to see in fantasy/sci fi for young adults (you know-strong but reluctant heroine, some romance, monsters, etc.). And it has those things, but it has much more.

Setting: Ravka is clearly based on Russia. Setting is becoming more important in YA novels, and Bardugo does a great job building a desolate and scary land. It is a land ruled by nobility that is selfish and childish.

Characters: Alina is believable as a heroine, mainly because she recognizes that she is not perfect. She knows that there is much she doesn't know about herself and that she has made-and will make-mistakes. She tries to do what is right for the masses, but knows it won't be worth it unless she takes care of herself, too.  She reminds me of one of my favorite heroines, Katsa from Graceling.

The Darkling is a great character as well...but I'm not going to say much about him since a large part of the experience of this book, for me, was figuring out his story.

The False Prince

by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Goodreads Summary:
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

My Review:
This book was suggested to me by Conor L., and when someone has read 60+ books this year and says this is his favorite, well, you listen! I wasn't disappointed by the book, although I was hesitant as I always am with historical fiction. It's just not my thing. This book gave the reader to really have the world-building feeling of a fantasy book, but without the magic. And honestly, I didn't miss the magic aspect (well, too much, anyway).

Sage is a character that any reader can like. He is funny in a self-deprecating way. He tries to make light of every situation, no matter what he faces and how bad things seem to be. This character makes the book flow. Even when there isn't a ton of action, his voice keeps the story interesting. 

Some things are slightly predictable, but I didn't think that took much away from the story. I will be reading the next two books in the series.