Friday, August 25, 2017

Crown of Three: A Kingdom Rises by J. D. Rinehart

While Elodie is imprisoned by Lord Vicerin, she uses her powers to summon dead warriors Vicerin had killed. With the dead’s help, she and her friends escape and fight their way to Melchior & troops loyal to the triplets. Meanwhile, Gulph wakes up from his fatal jump into the chasm fully healed by Celestis’s waters. Returning to Celestis, Gulph overthrows Lady Redina and leads Celestis’s inhabitants up to Idilliam. Tarlan soon arrives to fly Gulph and their mother to Elodie. Together the siblings lead an army of local men, the dead, and animals to contend with a new invading force and Vicerin. 

The final book in the Crown of Three series resolves all the countless calamities the siblings have endured. But a new, internal problem arises with Tarlan. At the beginning of this novel both Elodie and Gulph have accepted their royal roles. Tarlan, however, can’t quite accept his part in the prophecy. The constant fighting, the loss of his animal friends, and his uncomfortable human interactions cause Tarlan to fly away from his life. When Tarlan finally lands, he runs into Captain Leom: one of the men who smuggled Tarlan and his siblings away so they could have a chance to fulfill the prophecy. Realizing the realm needs his help and that Tarlan can’t run away from his destiny, Tarlan accepts his royal life and reunites with Elodie and Gulph. At times the plot gets muddled with three perspectives of the same event and drawn out wars, but the story gets back on track to create a clean, satisfactory finish. A complex, captivating trilogy any fantasy fan would enjoy.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

23 Minutes by Vivian Vande Velde

After a freak accident, Zoe Mahar developed the ability to rewind and redo her present actions for up to 23 minutes. Zoe uses her gift to resolve small mishaps, but when she gets caught in a deadly bank robbery, she must use her ability to save lives. This includes the life of a handsome stranger and young private-eye, Daniel, who sacrifices himself to save Zoe. Tapping into her talent, Zoe goes back in time to reintroduce herself to Daniel before the robbery and strategize how to resolve the incident peacefully.

Velde’s story is a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers glued to its pages until the end. But aside from the time-travel chase, there is real depth and emotion behind Zoe Mahar. Readers meet foster-care teen Zoe after she has stolen her classified psychiatric evaluations. Zoe is tired of her abusive past determining her present conditions. She juvenilely believes she can erase her emotional past with her records robbery. Trying to dispose of her paperwork, she runs smack into the bank robbery. As she tries to untangle the bank robbery with Daniel, Zoe learns that she must accept her past and rise above it so she can focus on helping others. One criticism of Velde’s story is that Zoe’s lengthy sarcastic reflections sabotage the story’s pacing from time to time. Otherwise plan to read this addictive book in one sitting.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

Pinmei and her Storyteller grandmother, Amah, hear rumors about the Vast Wall the new Emperor is forcing his subjects to build. Pinmei and Amah think they are safe from the Emperor on their mountain until the Emperor’s troops arrest Amah. The Emperor will release Amah if someone delivers the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night to him. Pinmei and her mysterious friend, Yishan, begin a quest to find the stone. As their journey progresses, Pinmei sees the truth behind Amah’s folktales and uses the stories’ insights to guide their path.

When the Sea Turned to Silver is the third book based on the world Lin created with When the Mountain Meets the Moon. Readers follow the three stories of Pinmei, Amah, and the Black Tortoise of Winter. For Pinmei and Amah’s chapters, they both share fairytales to either pass the time or uncover clues about the Emperor’s true motives. With the Black Tortoise, he describes his odd imprisonment, his need for a rescuer, and his eventual release. Along with their stories, Lin provides full-page, colorful illustrations and small character sketches to give vivid imagery and depth to her world. Some readers may find it difficult to remember the important details and characters from the abundant fairytales Amah and Pinmei share because Lin revisits these fairytale elements repeatedly to craft her book. Otherwise, a quick read full of fantasy, faith, and friendship for ages 12 and up.