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Friday, August 30, 2013


by Sarah Beth Durst

Eve is a girl placed in a special witness protection program that concentrates on people like her who can do magic.  They protect her and other strong magic-weilders from a mysterious serial killer who has been targeting people like them.  However, Eve cannot use her magic without blacking out and having visions of the Magician and the Storyteller, and she has no memory of her life before the witness protection, except for a few flashes here and there.  Often, when she blacks out, she'll lose days, weeks, or even months of her memories.  All she knows is that she is very important to the people trying to catch the serial killer, and they need her to remember her past.
The plot developed slowly, but not in a bad way.  It took a while to figure out what was going on, but figuring it out was interesting.  The memory loss was done pretty well, and the characters were consistent and distinct.  Three of the characters - Aiden, Topher, and Victoria - struck me as superfluous.  Their main purpose was to push Eve on to discover things, but she could very well have discovered them on her own.  There's also some slight backstory, but it is barely explored, and it is not important enough to merit being mentioned.  If the book had more scope, which I would have liked, then the backstories could have been very interesting and I would have liked these characters a lot more.
The end was extremely rushed.  It happened suddenly, and everything was handed to Eve.  She spent the whole book trying to figure out what was going on, and in the end, it was simply explained to her.  The end scenes were short and happened one after another.  Expanding the end would have made the book more enjoyable and it would have made it possible to expand the scope and include the other characters a little more.  The pacing for most of the book was a slow build-up, and for the end to happen at the rate it did was disappointing.
This book is a 3.  Decent writing, decent plot, decent characters.  It is bread; it is not great, but not bad. It isn't the fresh-out-of-the-oven, homemade, soft-in-the-middle bread - which I think it could have been if it had been written differently - but it is also not the limp, tasteless bread that is better off left uneaten.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mortal Fire

by Elizabeth Knox

Canny is 16 years old and lives in a world "very like our own" in 1959.  She is a mathematical genius, remembers pretty much everything, and has the unique ability to see "Extra," which she later discovers is part of an intricate magic system that only some can use,
mainly the Zarenes.  The Zarenes are a family that live in Zarene Valley, and Canny stumbles upon them while traveling with her older brother, Sholto, and his girlfriend, Susan, on a research project of the 1929 coal mine explosion that happened near the valley.  The only Zarenes that live in the valley are between five and thirteen, plus Iris, Cyrus, Lealand, and Ghislain.  Canny spends a lot of time wandering around, lying to her brother, and discovering the secrets of the valley and her past.  After quite a lot of this, the end happens.  And it's not because she figures anything out.  It just happens.  Canny comes up with various ways to do what she wants, most of which involve telling her brother somewhat unnecessary lies.  A little deception might be necessary, but the amount of lies she tells is far outweighs this necessity.  Despite being presented as someone who acts and thinks based purely on logic, Canny constantly reacts illogically.  Her interactions with Cyrus made little sense, and I gave up trying to follow her thought processes halfway through the book.  Furthermore, the conversations in the book do not feel like real conversations.  They are exchanges of words between the characters so that they can have interactions. While reading this book, I felt like I did when I read Shakespeare for the very first time.  As you read, you get the general gist of what's going on, usually, but you miss a lot of the individual actions and happenings that make the story feel real.  The author often implied action rather than described them.  Sholto and Susan felt like shells of characters rather than characters with depth.  They acted as Canny or the plot required, and I got little sense of personality from them because it changed so much.  The book also mentioned that Canny and Susan dislike each other, but it was almost impossible to tell this from their actions.  It says they complain about each other a lot, but it only ever tells you that they complain, and it does not show them complaining about each other.
What made the entire book even more disappointing was that it could have been beautiful.  There were some nice parts that could have been wonderful if the book had been written better, but lack of emotional consistency ruined them.  The end would have been so much more poignant if it had been set up.
Overall, the book is a 2.  It is your least favorite flavor of meringue.  The magic and histories were interesting, but the book was a chore to read.  After biting into a meringue, it dissolves away in your mouth.  After reading passages of the book, you have to let them dissolve within your head and just keep on reading.  It is not an action-packed book, it is a wandering book.  There is lots of air and less substance than I would like.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Flame in the Mist

by Kit Grindstaff
This book was published in April 2013

        I was looking for some magic and fantasy so I picked up The Flame in the Mist. The cover was well done and it seemed to reek of magic. So far so good. I launched into Jemma's world where she and her family live in a castle and rule over the land. They love to eat rotten food and spoiled milk, and every week make an offering to Mordrake and Mordrana, their family ancestors. Using magic they summon up evil things like bats, spiders, and monsters. However Jemma hates the weekly ceremonies and falters at doing anything evil. Obviously, she is different.

        I read one fourth of the book before I skipped to the last page, read the last paragraph, and declared the book finished.

        The plot moves a bit too quickly and awkwardly, using sleeping, escaping, and sneaking around heavily and repetitively in the plot. Too repetitively. In the first 24 hours of the book Jemma sleeps four times, sneaks around more than that, and attempts escape three times. This is essentially the first 100 pages of the book with 450 more pages to go. You might see now why I didn't finish it. Stephanie agrees with me although she was able to finish it.

       However, I think that this book has a place where it can find success. Middle schoolers and below will probably be more forgiving of the errors I find glaring and sympathize better with Jemma, who is 13. They won't find it immature and more they will be more likely to glaze over the oddly repetitive, shallow bits.

       Since I didn't enjoy this book I rate it a 2. I think a younger audience would give it a 3 or slightly higher. If this book were a food, it would be candy dots. Were they actually that good when I was young? I don't think so, but I also didn't care. Older teens and adults know to spend money on something else.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Beautiful Decay

by: Sylvia Lewis

This book has a pretty good start.  Ellie is a girl that seems to make everyone she touches sick.  She has no friends and she's fine with that.  Then a new kid, Nate, comes.  They becomes friends, as you might have guessed.  Then Nate tells Ellie that there are more people like her and that she actually works with life.  He works with death which is why he knows about this.  Everything is going well until things happen with Nate's family -- his father worked in a secret organization of these special people.  Then the end comes and is rather silly.  The book was doing pretty will with the viviomancer-necromancer thing but then this secret organization ends up being pretty stupid.

This book is a 2.5 .  It had a good potential but the characters and plot weren't complex enough.  It was too simple.  It was sort of like a souffle that is growing and growing but then because the baker forgot to add something it simply collapses back in on itself.

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