Foundation… by Mercedes Lackey

Click here to see this review on WUAT.

(Valdemar: Collegium Chronicles, Book 1)
by Mercedes Lackey

Published By: DAW Books, Inc.: A Member of Penguin Group (USA)
ISBN-13: 978-0756405243

Set the Foundation for a New Series
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/21/2008

Mags has been a virtual slave in a mine since he was a little tyke. To survive, he scrabbled for food and learned how to dig out “sparklies” to keep the mine owner off his back. The day the Herald arrives is both the most wonderful and most terrifying of Mags’s life. After more than a decade of abuse and neglect, Mags is brought into a new life that defies comprehension. All that keeps him from panic is the gentle white horse with blue eyes… a horse that is as smart as any human… a Companion who has made Mags his Chosen, a future Herald.

Mags and Dallen must travel to Haven, the city where the Heralds are headquartered, and where the Collegium awaits Heraldic Trainees. Mags must overcome thick layers of defense in order to see the world as more than hunger and beatings. If he can, he’ll find more than he imagined possible—both good and dangerous.

From grubby child worker to a Trainee in the middle of growing intrigue, Mags has the chance to do more than most people experience in a lifetime.

There is no doubt that Mercedes Lackey is extraordinarily talented. This novel is imbued with her spirit and a strong sense of justice. Depth of character, setting, and story are all present in this orphan’s tale, opening readers to a new glimmer of understanding of those less fortunate and the appreciation for having what is needed.

There were some holes in the story that were distracting. As someone new to the world of Valdemar, it took some time to understand what constituted the bond between Companion and Chosen. The story is told from Mags’s point of view, so the reader shouldn’t be told everything right away, but there were basic questions I can’t believe Mags didn’t ask of Dallen. Other “holes” are things that I assume to be lead-ins to the next novel in the series.

Overall, I think fans of Mercedes Lackey will find this to their liking. It seems more targeted for a young adult, or even middle school, audience, but it’s a good read whatever your age.


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Paper Towns… by John Green

Paper Towns
by John Green

Published By: Dutton Books: A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0525478188

This Paper Burns with Soul
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/20/2008

Margo Roth Spiegelman is a name you say in one breath. Just ask Quentin. Q has watched her grow up, the literal girl next door. When she shows up at his window late one night, he’s swept through the next few hours on an adventure such as he’s never experienced. Still in the thrall of overnight hijinks, he goes to school to learn that Margo has disappeared.

With his friends Ben and Radar, Q desperately works to solve the mystery that is Margo Roth Spiegelman. Her cryptic trail of clues has Q crisscrossing central Florida. His friends say she’ll show up at graduation, but he’s not so sure. He doesn’t care about prom or graduation. He just wants to find Margo before it’s too late.

Author John Green knows how to see into the souls of teens on the cusp of adulthood. There is a lot of Young Adult fiction that sees teens just as kids who need to be entertained. Green sees beyond the surface and creates situations that delve into readers hearts—whether they are eighteen years old or thirty or fifty.

Green waxes philosophical fairly often, but it works. There is enough “normal” teen behavior to balance the spurts of deep thinking. Besides the intellect behind the book, Green does a great job of setting each scene. Readers will find each of their senses engaged, pulling them into Q’s life.

Lest readers think I’m all aglow about PAPER TOWNS, it is worth noting that there is a lot of swearing and frequent references to sex and teen drinking. This novel could be used as one of those “teaching moments” professionals like to talk about. Quite frankly, a lot of the behavior in this book is common, so it would be a good chance to talk about it and let kids and parents air out how they feel about these issues, as well as the overall plot of the book.

This is one that will make people see others around them with fresh eyes. I highly recommend this novel for older teens and up.


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Who Lives in the Rainforest?… by Nora Pelizzari

Who Lives in the Rainforest?
by Nora Pelizzari

Published By: HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0064117709

Nice Little Book
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/20/2008

This little book is very colorful with a bit of a puzzle feel. Children are asked to find an animal in the jungle, which is drawn in bright greens, oranges, yellows, and reds. The animals hide behind flaps. When they’re found, the child sees an uncluttered picture, with a labeled, smaller picture on the reverse of the flap.

The flaps in this board book seem sturdier than average, but I am still concerned about small kids pulling them off. For flap books, I tend to recommend them for preschoolers rather than babies–although flaps often don’t survive three years olds either!

Cute and educational, this is a nice little book for your child’s library.


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The Summoning… by Kelley Armstrong

The Summoning
(Darkest Powers, Book 1)
by Kelley Armstrong

Published By: HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0061662690

Worth the Read
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 07/24/2008

Things are looking up for Chloe Saunders. She’s in to the arts-focused high school she’s dreamed of attending. She’s making friends. And nothing weird has happened in a long time.

Until now. On what started out as a normal day, Chloe’s world is shattered. Terrifying ghosts come out of nowhere, and no one believes her. Chloe’s bizarre behavior lands her in a home for troubled teens. Surrounded by other misfits, she soon learns there’s more to everyone’s “troubles” than they realize. Learning the truth behind Lyle House could cost Chloe more than she imagines.

This novel is the first in a new series by bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, in which she brings her fascination with the paranormal to the Young Adult audience. THE SUMMONING blends popular elements of the genre with an interesting spin of its own.

Armstrong presents a well-defined subculture in an otherwise ordinary world. While the plot is a little thin at times, there’s a solid foundation for future installments. Most of the characters have enough depth to keep them interesting, although Chloe seemed like a watered-down version of what her character could be.

This novel offers promise for an enjoyable series. It had a few bumps, but it was fun enough for me to read in less than a day. THE SUMMONING isn’t the strongest book available in the genre, but it is fun and worth a read.

Click here to see the Chloe Saunders website.


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