The covers link to the Tattered Cover page for the books.
Shattered, by Mari Mancusi
This is a great sequel to Scorched, and I enjoyed the twists and turns as Trinity learns more about raising a dragon (and being bonded to a dragon). The twins continue to grow, as well, although watching their ‘past’ is also painful in some ways. Trinity’s sense of duty is pretty strong, and I think that makes her sympathetic throughout all the challenges. I also like how there are no obvious solutions in this world, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this all plays out.
The story (in a nutshell): Trinity and the twins continue to try and save the future of the world by protecting Emmy from those who would exploit her…a task which grows ever harder as more people are introduced into the scene — people with their own agendas and challenging pasts.
Sourcebooks Fire, 9/14
The Bitter Kingdom, by Rae Carson
I really did love this — and all of the trilogy. Elisa is such a wonderfully human and humane queen. Her courage and determination are inspirational — she’s exactly whom I’d like my daughter reading about! And of course, the supporting cast is also amazing: I love Hector’s loyalty and bravery; Red is so feisty and faithful; Mara is fierce and strong; Belen is vulnerable and courageous; and Storm is the perfect enemy turned faithful servant. I feel invested in all these fictional folks — it’s like I’ve visited Elisa’s kingdom, met all of them, gotten to sit and chat, and now they’re family. Truly a wonderful trilogy! The story: Elisa will not allow Hector to be killed — so she travels across the land to find him and rescue him. As she does so, she worries about her own kingdom which has been taken over by a traitor. She also worries about the sister kingdoms — and being Elisa, she begins to hatch a plan to save all of them from any Invierno or other challenges for years to come. Of course, she has to actually accomplish all of this, and finding Hector turns out, as always, to simply be the first step in a very long climb. (YA fantasy, released 8/13, publisher: Greenwillow Books)
The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson
Okay, I loved this one as much as the first. 🙂 Carson definitely shows how to make the middle book in a trilogy compelling, and I loved the new challenges (and romance) which comes Elisa’s way. Truly, I just love Elisa, period. She continues to surprise and remain strong, no matter what comes her way. She learns how to lead and how to gain the confidence of her people, and the reader gets to travel right along with her. I love how Carson puts us so deeply into Elisa’s head that we feel everything she’s feeling, and yet it doesn’t take away from the plot at all. I thought the tension grew just the way I wanted it to — and I love, love, love the romance. It’s so consistent with not only Elisa’s character but also her world and her past. I can’t wait for the third! The story: Elisa is now the queen of Brisadulce, but her people don’t have the confidence in her they should, and as parts of her large kingdom begin to rebel, she has to prove herself to the small ruling council along with all the people. As the Invierne continue to rise, Elisa doesn’t know whom to trust — and on top of it all, she’s being forced into a marriage which will benefit her people right as she begins to fall in love…with someone whom Ximena believes is not right for her. Will Elisa be able to overcome the challenges and prove herself as a ruler — along with keeping her love — in time to save her kingdom from the Invierne and an internal traitor? (YA fantastical/historical/suspense, released 9/12, publisher: Greenwillow Books)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson
I really enjoyed this too — another five-star read! I think what I liked most about this was the combination of genres: it felt like both a historical and a fantasy. I loved Elisa’s growth and her complete lack of helplessness (especially when she makes no excuses for her weight and her love of reading and studying). I love her practical approach to just about everything, and I like that she’s not your typical heroine (in that, she’s not skinny and gorgeous). If I had to list a complaint, it might be the complicated plot point regarding the godstones…but even with that, the story was quite compelling, and I read it in one day, as well. I’m picking up the second one this week! The story: Elisa is being married off to the king of a neighboring nation, even though she’s the second princess and has no desire to rule. But things aren’t what she’s been told, and she quickly learns that something deeper is going on when their traveling group is attacked on route to her new kingdom. Not only that, but her new husband (who was a widower and has a son) is keeping their marriage — indeed their entire ‘relationship’ — a secret. Elisa begins to realize that there are many secrets, not the least of which involves her godstone, the jewel imbedded in her belly button. Before she can learn more, however, she’s kidnapped and taken across the desert…and finds herself embroiled in a rebellion which shows her the weaknesses of her new husband. Along the way, she also falls in love with one of the rebels — and now she needs to figure out how best to help the people and deal with her godstone too — (this isn’t a great summary — it speaks to the complexity and layers of the story that I can’t even begin to do it justice). (YA fantasy, released 8/12, publisher: Greenwillow Books)
The Pledge, by Kimberly Derting
I really enjoyed this! I was entranced within the first chapter (so rare, these days), and I not only liked the MC, but the supporting characters were also interesting. I think one of the reasons I got hooked so quickly had to do with the unusual premise. The setting comes across very historical (old European), yet it’s not! That mystery right there kept me going, trying to figure out what had happened in this world to bring it to the point of this story. I liked the magical parts (which were woven into the story in almost a magical realism way — ie, there was no real legend or mythology, it just was), and I liked the intrigue and mysteries. There were a few things that didn’t feel completely resolved to me (and I don’t know if there’s going to be another set in this world or not) and a few inconsistencies in characters, but for the most part, I was quite satisfied when I finished. I would love to read another book set in this world…maybe a book with Angelina as the MC? 🙂 The story: In Charlie’s country, it all comes down to class and language. The classes are distinct, even to the point of having their own language — and no one can speak or understand any language except their own class’s…except for Charlie, a member of the vendor class. She understands all languages, and that secret is one she’s kept to herself her entire life. But one night at a club, a stranger guesses her secret when Charlie overhears a new language, one never spoken before in her presence. The stranger, a man named Max, takes an interest in Charlie. He’s persistent, and she’s intrigued since he speaks this before-unheard language, but she knows it’s more important to keep her secret — and her younger sister’s secret. Both girls have special gifts, and Angelina doesn’t speak and needs Charlie’s protection. The country is in turmoil because the Queen grows old and frail and has no female heir — and both She and the Resistance search for any female descended from royal blood. In the meantime, the Resistance continues to attack, aiming to weaken the Queen even further as she tightens her control with more executions. Charlie wants nothing more than to live her life in her class, safe with her family — but when Max’s attentions continue and Charlie senses he has his own secrets, Charlie’s pulled into the limelight, garnering interest from both the Resistance and the Queen. (YA…dystopic? adventure? suspense? fantasy?, released 11/11, publisher: Margaret K. McElderry)
My Unfair Godmother, by Janette Rallison
This is a fun, fun book! I loved the humor, and the contrast between Tansy’s angst and her sarcasm was nice. Another well-done ‘fairy tale’ book by Rallison. The story: Tansy does what she can to show her dad how much she hates that he left them, but when her ‘boyfriend’ takes her on a vandalism date — and then leaves her at the scene to be arrested — Tansy realizes she might have gone too far. She wishes things would change, and her fairy godmother appears, but Tansy’s unaware of Chrissy’s rotten track record, so when she makes her first wish and Robin Hood and his Merry Men appear (and begin looting the town), Tansy’s problems only get worse. When Tansy tries to use her next wish to rid the town of RH, an innocent bystander is also taken back — but have no fear: Chrissy will be sure to mess up and send Tansy back in time, as well (um, along with her entire family and their modern-day house). In the end, Tansy has to figure out the moral of her own story in order to save everyone and get them all back home. (YA fantasy, releasing 4/11, publisher: Walker)