Sunday, September 23, 2012

YALSA's Young Adult Literature Symposium

 I'll be presenting on dystopian fiction in St. Louis on November 2, 2012. Hope to see some of you there!

Book of the Week - Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Susan Fichtelberg booktalked this at Dragon*Con earlier this month which is why I moved it way up on the TBR stack. Harman's world building is wonderful and the mixed race eponymous heroine is beautifully developed along with her relationships. 

The world Seraphina lives has been at peace for decades due to a treaty reached between Queen Lavonda of the Goreddi royal family and Ardmagar Comonot who is the leader of the dragons. In this world, the dragons can assume a human shape and interact with humans. They are devoid of emotions but great scholars and mathematicians. Their music is precise and perfect but without the emotion that would make it great. Seraphina, is half dragon and half human, a combination that is supposed to be impossible. The only outward manifestations of her dragon side are scales on her left arm and on her back. Raised by her single then remarried father to be all human, she becomes the protege of her draconic uncle and ends up living in the royal palace and working as assistant the the court composer. She has a garden she tends her mind that is peopled by strange creatures. When the heir to the crown is murdered and found headless, near the 40th anniversary of the accord between dragons and humans, the immediate suspicion is that he was killed by a dragon who bit his head off. Seraphina teams up with the Captain of the Guard, the bastard prince called Kiggs to solve the murder and try to stop war from breaking out.

This fresh fantasy stands out in popular crowed genre. In a year when many books seem bloated and in need of judicious cutting, this 465 page tome is just right. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book of the Week: The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Outstanding novel. There are just so many things I love about this book. Elisa, now queen, chafes under all the protections that are placed around her but there are enemies all around, but also people who are steadfast and loyal. Somebody is gong to get hurt. It is only a few months since she was widowed but her advisors are telling her she must quickly make a political marriage. Even though it seemed Invierne had been beaten they aren't done yet. Elisa and retinue make a journey ostensibly to view the holdings of a southern Conde who is one of her suitors but in truth is on the path set before her in an obscure apocryphal document and echoed in the stones of a secret passage in her palace. I hated some of the things that happened in this book, but so did Elisa. It says something to me that the feelings of the protagonist are so well portrayed I feel them, too. I really like the Hispanic names of people and places, the importance of religion and God in the lives of the characters, the magical godstones, the portrayal of a gay character, and the strength Elisa shows despite her insecurities.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book of the Week: Transcendence by C. J. Omololu

A cello prodigy starts having deja vu moments when visiting London where she meet an attractive boy. Returning to California, she has the ability to remember previous lives and that she is not alone as someone else who has been reincarnated wants revenge. It has great pacing and engaging characters. I really liked the diversity in this novel. There seems to be a trend in YA towards featuring mixed race characters. Bistro Book Club teens have loved the cover and wanted to read it.