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Not As Strong As I Hoped: The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Hi there!

This weekend the Husband and I are spending a little mini break in Savannah for a few days! Yay for cool historic towns that are close by! After that we’ll be headed to Florida to visit family and friends for a week. It’s going to be so hot, but fun!

Today let’s talk about conclusions to trilogies…one trilogy in particular, the Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Recently I finished The Shadow Throne, which is the third and final book in this middle grades fantasy series.

One war. Too many deadly battles. Can a king save his kingdom, when his own survival seemsThe Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen unlikely?

War has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does. His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighbouring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya’s throne?

If you’ve read my reviews for the first two books (The False Prince and The Runaway King) you’ll know that I was a huge fan of the first book, but was disappointed in the second. Well, good news! I liked The Shadow Throne more than book two, but not as much as the first. The only thing that really kept me from loving this third book is the repetitive nature of the storyline. Jaron, the stubborn one, completely ignores everyone’s advice and get’s himself stuck in an impossible situation only to do something over the top to escape. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jaron and I love these characters, but after a while this plot line makes me roll my eyes a little.

Now, there is a major plot point that occurs right at the beginning of the book that had me reeling! I can’t say what it is only that I literally (yes I’m using this word correctly) had to go back and reread those pages more than one time to see if I had read it correctly! Oh! It’s a good twist that will trip you up!

Regarding the characters, Jaron has matured a lot since book one (despite his ever-persisting stubbornness) and we see this primarily in the way he has learned to accept help from his friends…for the most part. Also, we see growth in the supporting characters like Tobias standing up for his gifts and passions, while at the same time Roden realizes that he has strong leadership capabilities and figures out how to harness them for good.

Although The Shadow Throne was not as strong as I had hoped it would be, it was a fine conclusion and fans of the first two books will enjoy finding out what becomes of Carthya and these characters.

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen

Publisher: Scholastic Press (February 25, 2014)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 317 pages

Series: Third book in the Ascendance Trilogy

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book:

 

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Waiting on Wednesday: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Hello!

Are you in the mood for some historical fiction?! Well, I am which is why today’s Waiting on Wednesday features Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman.

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Priosner of Night and Fog by Anne BlankmanGretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet. Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews. As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed? From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

Aren’t you intrigued?! I mean the whole idea of your uncle being Hitler…THE Hitler is crazy. I’ve always wondered about those related to Hitler and what they thought of his choices and how they must have felt after his demise. Prisoner of Night and Fog will probably be an intense read, but we have to wait until April 22 to get our hands on it.

What books are you waiting for today?

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The Big Finish: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Welcome back friends!

I hope everyone has been having a fun weekend. It’s been pretty rainy all weekend here in South Carolina, but it’s been nice to have an excuse to stay in and work on the blog a little!

This book was so highly anticipated by me and pretty much everyone else out there! After I finished reading it however, I had to take a break before even considering this review. I wasn’t sure how to write a review of Allegiant by Veronica Roth so I decided to just go for it!

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles Allegiant by Veronica Rothand scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

If you’ve read this book, I know what you’re probably thinking. It’s a mixture of disappointment, surprise, betrayal, excitement, and meh. It’s like all those feelings were thrown into the little bowl of your heart and someone turned on the KitchenAid and just started going to town. A lot of people finished this book and just weren’t happy. I understand that. When all is said and done I was entertained by Allegiant. Was it an amazing finale to the trilogy? No. Did I hate it? No. For me, Allegiant just could have been stronger.

Initially, I really liked the relationship between Tris and Tobias but then somewhere in the middle of book two, they stop talking to each other and this silent trend continues into book three. Both characters are making big decisions and keeping them secret from one another. There is talk about how much they love each other and want their relationship to work, but how is that possible if you don’t talk to that person about anything? This silence kind of ruins the relationship between Tris and Tobias for me, which is sad because I want to love them so much!

My favorite thing about Allegiant was probably getting some questions about the society and factions answered, and I feel like there was so much potential to really delve into the history of the factions. When it finally got to the answers, I felt like so much of this part of the storyline was rushed. We only scratched the surface level of the “why” behind the factions. I wanted to know more about how the factions came to be and more about Tris’ mom who had all these crazy secrets.

Let’s talk the ending without giving anything away. I just knew something  big was going to happen. I knew it and then I read it. At this point I was so surprised that Veronica Roth had the guts to do what she did that I had to go back and read this specific “part that shall not be named” again. I read it about four times before I finally comprehended that what I thought had happened had, in fact, happened! And you know what? I wasn’t mad. I didn’t love it either. I rarely get angry at how an author chooses to end a book or series because it’s their creation. How they chose to end it all, is how it was meant to end, in my opinion.

I don’t question Veronica Roth’s choice of ending, but I do question the quality of the final storyline leading up to the big finish. All in all, I felt like Allegiant could have been a stronger story, I kind of wish it had been. However, if you are a fan of this series than I recommend reading Allegiant because it was entertaining and it does wrap up the trilogy in an interesting way. Just know that you’ve been warned. Get ready to be surprised and have all your feelings will be mixed up!

Author: Veronica Roth

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Oct. 22, 2013)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 526 pages

Series: Third book in the Divergent trilogy

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Allegiant (Divergent Series)

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Pulling Out the Floorboards: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Welcome back to BookTasty!

I’m always on the lookout for audiobooks my husband and I can both listen to together. It has to have the right plot, the right characters and just can’t be too girly in general I think. In the past we’ve listened to Agatha Christie mysteries, The Hunger Games trilogy, The Maze Runner series, and Gregor the Overlander together. Since I’d heard the news that a movie was in the works, we decided it was time to listen to Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Cardtrain them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

This was such a great one for us to listen to together. I know this book was published in the 1980s, but I had never read it until now. Honestly, I’d never been interested before but the movie is releasing in November so I knew I had to finally read it! Overall, Ender’s Game is a very cool dystopian sci-fi tale that kept me coming back for more. I think it’s a great story for a family to read together because it will appeal to both adults and (middle school & older) kids.

I liked Ender as a main character and always cheered him on for sure, but I also just felt sorry for him the whole time! Just when things are going okay (not even good) for Ender Wiggins another floorboard is pulled out from under him. ALWAYS!  Ender just keeps getting the crappy end of the stick! CONSTANTLY! Honestly, after a while I couldn’t help but get tired of it, I wanted him to succeed and  you can only take so much hardship with little-to-no relief for so long! But I think that’s what makes Ender’s story so special in some twisted way! haha

Ender’s relationships with his siblings were especially interesting. You have the dangerous relationship between  Ender and Peter contrasted with Ender and Valentine’s close connection.  Then it all gets mixed up when Valentine and Peter become a duo.  You have some really intense relationships on both sides of the spectrum and they both spur Ender on in different ways. In fact, I kept forgetting that the story is about kids/teens because they’re thrown into these very adult roles and relationships. There were some times, however, where things got a little heady for me…specifically when Valentine and Peter are discussing politics/government, but it didn’t ruin it for me or anything.

Regarding the audio, the narrator was fabulous…there was even a cast of narrators for specific voices, which we loved!

All in all, you should definitely check out Ender’s Game (the book!!) if you’re even the smallest bit interested in the movie!

Author: Orson Scott Card

Publisher: Fantastic Audio (2002)

Format: audiobook

Length: 11 hours and 57 mins

Narrator(s): Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison

Series: Book one in Ender’s Saga

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Ender’s Game (The Ender Quintet)

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Fairy Tale with a Twist of Sci-Fi: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Welcome back BookTasty friends!

Whew! Moving is intense! First the packing and living in chaos, then the cleaning and packing up the truck. This is then followed by driving the truck and your cars to new home (from Florida to South Carolina in our case) and unpacking said truck. Finally  you unpack boxes and organize. It’s a good thing we have amazing friends in both states who were ready to help!

Recently I was able to snatch up the audiobook of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer from my library – I literally did a little happy Scarlet by Marissa Meyerjumping dance in the middle of the teen section when I saw it sitting on the shelf! I absolutely loved Meyer’s first book in The Lunar Chronicles, Cinder, so I knew Scarlet (book two) was one I had to read!

The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth. Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Marissa Meyer just knows how to write a fun book! Fairy tale retellings are some of my favorites, and Meyer took the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale and added a kick-butt futuristic, sci-fi twist to it. LOVE!

In Cinder, we met Cinder and Prince Kai. Their stories were great – a cyborg Cinderella meets reluctant prince amidst a plague epidemic in futuristic Asia? But what I love about Meyer’s storytelling is she doesn’t stop with them and make them the central focus of each book, she adds in new main characters to move the plot forward but also add new story lines. In Scarlet we met, Scarlet (who always wears her red hoodie) and Wolf, an intriguing mystery guy who knows more than he lets on.

As a main character it took me a while to warm up to Scarlet. In the beginning she seems unnecessarily reckless and rebellious, but her sarcasm (which I’m always a fan of) starts to grow on you and you can’t help but be on her side. Plus, the more and more I remember the original story of Red Riding Hood, Scarlet’s personality reflects Red Riding Hood pretty well. Not following authority’s recommendations?! That’s Scarlet!

On another character note, Cinder is much darker and snappier than she was in the first book, but then again if I was on the run from the law I’d probably be a little snappy too! Oh and Captain Thorne?  You remind me of someone just as naughty and honorable…(pssst…it’s Captain Mal from Firefly). Of course, Queen Levana is an evil and manipulative as ever, while her “army” is terrifying!

Meyer’s sci-fi futuristic world is fabulously imagined, but isn’t the focus of the story. The reader isn’t laden down with technology and scientific descriptions of things. These characters live a world of robots, vid-screens, trackers,s pace ships, and cyborgs but ultimately the reader can recognize the world as one that’s not so different from ours today.

So, all in all I really enjoyed Scarlet and can’t wait for the next book in The Lunar Chronicles, Cress which is to be released in early 2014. So, if you’re looking for a quality fairy tale retelling, or are in the mood for some fun science fiction you should definitely read Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (only you should start with Cinder since, you know, it is the first book!).

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (February 5, 2013)

Format: audiobook

Length: 11 hours and 19 minutes

Series: Second book in The Lunar Chronicles

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:  Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, Book 2)

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Perseverance and Hope: A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

Hello there!

I’m trucking away at reading all fifteen Florida Sunshine State books and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is the ninth I’ve A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Parkfinished.

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

Having friends who recently moved to southern Sudan I was intrigued when I saw that this story of Civil War in Sudan made the Sunshine State list this year. I’m going to have to send this book to her because it was a really beautiful read.

Linda Sue Park tells the true story of Salva, a “lost boy”, interwoven with a story of a young girl, Nya in such a way that the reader can’t help but be moved. There is so much sadness and hardship in this book but in Salva and Nya’s stories are also full of perseverance and hope. A Long Walk to Water can be a difficult read at times, as it does detail the horrors and difficulties of war and death, but Parks does not linger on these scenes and her careful timing and inclusion of them makes them that much more powerful.

I would definitely recommend A Long Walk to Water to middle school aged readers to adults. Also, I believe this quick read could be an incredibly helpful book in the classroom to bring more contemporary examples of civil war to students.

Author: Linda Sue Park

Publisher: Clarion Books (November 15, 2010)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 128 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story

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Book Trailer of the Week: Insurgent

20120330-000014.jpgI am a huge YA Dystopian fan and one of my favorite titles that I’ve recently read in this genre is Veronica Roth’s Divergent. Well, it’s getting closer and closer to May, when the second book
in the series, Insurgent, is released! I’m so incredibly excited to continue following Tris and Four and find out why happens next to the factions.
Well, today’a trailer is for Insurgent
and was recently released. I think it’s a very well done an exciting trailer that has me pumped or the book! Watch it to see for yourself!
Book trailer for ‘Insurgent’ by Veronica Roth.

 

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Book Trailer of the Week: Sunrise Over Fallujah

In honor of Veteran’s Day the Book Trailer of the Week is Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers.  Some of my 8th grade boys have read this one and really liked it a lot.  I showed the book trailer last year on the morning announcements and had ten boys (who rarely read) come to the Media Center to request it (luckily we have 2 copies!).

So, thanks for all who give of themselves to serve our country!