May 11, 2010

The start of a new blog...

I've been following other YA book blogs for a while now and finding them a very valuable resource for discovering new books to check out (and also which ones just aren't worth it). So I thought I'd try my hand at it.

These next few books are all on my "favorites" shelf, so they are all of exceptional quality (and all get 5/5 stars)!

1.) The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale - The action begins when Princess Anidori journeys to the neighbouring country of Bayern to be wed to their prince, and her lady-in-waiting, Selia, incites a revolt. Forced into hiding as a goose girl while Selia pretends to be the true princess, Ani makes new friends among the commoners, develops her powers of "wind-speaking," and falls in love. But when Selia threatens to destroy all that Ani holds dear - will she have the strength to prove herself?

A re-telling of the fairytale, Hale's novel grabs you emotionally and doesn't let go. Her writing is lyrical and her characters are both true to life and true to the magical setting her novel takes place in. Though I've never read the original fairytale, and I don't know how much Hale changed, I thoroughly enjoyed this version.

2.) Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

The first time I saw this book I actually wasn't too sure what to make of it and if it was really my kind of read. My mom was the one who suggested it and since it was on sale at Black Bond Books I thought, what the heck. So glad I made the purchase! This book is quirky and unbelievably funny, with a main character that teens can relate to, who matures at a realistic pace.

The story details the trials and tribulations of Elizabeth Clarry, in a unique format of notes from her mother, letters from a stranger (who becomes a friend) at another school, and communications from a variety of made-up organizations like "The Association of Teenagers." It's easy to empathize with the challenges Elizabeth faces and you will be rooting for her in no time! I can't promise, however, that you'll feel sorry for Celia - I never did.

Moriarty has written two other books in the series (focusing on different main characters) - The Year of Secret Assignments and The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie. I really enjoyed both of these as well and am eagerly anticipating her fourth, The Ghosts of Ashbury High, that comes out in June 2010.

3.) Sorcery and Cecelia, by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

This book is also written in the format of letters, this time between two cousins living in Victorian times (which is my favorite era, of course). The twist? This is England with magic. And it has just about everything you could ask for - cunning magicians, evil stepmothers, complicated spells, plucky heroines, dashing gentlemen...and romance! I particularly like this novel because it started out as just a writing game between the two authors, and you can really tell they had lots of fun with it. All the little historical details are spot on and highly reminiscent of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen (whom they pay tribute to in their acknowledgments). Overall a really fun read for lovers of history and magic alike.

4.) Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith

This is another one of my comfort reads (and sort of has the same feel as Sorcery and Cecelia, in a way). Meliara is a countess with no interest in society's expectations and a passion for righting wrongs and upholding justice. When she refuses to give in to ruthless King Galdran's demands, the result is war - and in the process Meliara is injured and captured by the enemy troops. The man who holds her captive - Vidanric Renselaeus - is difficult to read and his motives seem ambiguous; Meliara can't quite figure him out but isn't sticking around to try. She manages to escape and the adventure begins...

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