I’m not feeling the reviewing right now, so I thought I’d just blather on about a few books I read recently.
A Coalition of Lions and The Sunbird by Elizabeth Wein: I think the most important thing to say about these books is that they’re not The Winter Prince. They certainly build off of that story, and I would most definitely read it first. But The Winter Prince is one of those books that I don’t think you could write a real sequel to. Nonetheles, A Coalition of Lions and The Sunbird are both fascinating and well-written. Telemakos is a wonderful character who’s reminding me more and more of Megan Whalen Turner’s Gen. I’ve got the next one ordered and I can’t wait till it gets here!
A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magic by Caroline Stevermer: I’ve been enjoying Stevermer’s Kate and Cecy books, which she wrote with Patricia C. Wrede, for several years. These two are quite similar in the mix of magic and a world that’s mostly like ours at an earlier time period. I have to say that, while I liked the characters and the story, the world building seemed a little odd to me. I felt very disoriented in the first book because the main character is from a country that doesn’t exist in our world but does in this world and then England showed up and I was confused. I was also confused as to their current location and the time period. But the second book retroactively cleared that all up: early 1900s, the first book is set in France, their world is quite like ours. I did wonder though, if things are different enough to have entire countries that don’t exist in our world, would Taft really be the president? I seem to remember one alternate-reality story I read where Adlai Stevenson got elected. It wasn’t a major plot point but it helped to point out that things were different there. Anyway, if you ignore the world-building and focus on the characters, these are fun stories which reminded me at times of Dorothy Sayers (especially the second).
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson: Several people had reviewed this, so I picked it up. I ended up reading it all in one sitting, gulping it down. Wow. Really, really good. And really, really freaky at the same time. Jenna’s voice was just right–detached enough to keep certain parts from seeming overly sentimental but not so detached that I didn’t care about her. My only problem (a slight one) was with the epilogue. I felt like it was all tied up just a little too neatly, especially with Allys. But overall, if you’re looking for a good teen sci-fi set slightly in the future, I’d definitely recommend this one.
Black is the Color of my True Love’s Heart by Ellis Peters: When I started this book and found that it was going to be about folk singers in the 1960s, I winced. I’ve read several mysteries where young people of that era figure and even if the author treats them with some kindness, it’s always that heavy-handed “oh those silly dears” kindness. Well, I did Ellis Peters a wrong. I think she must have been something of a folk song enthusiast herself (or maybe I should say ballad–she seems to prefer that term). I kind of called the twist, but I read her for two things: the characters and the description of the Shropshire landscape. The characters in this were well-drawn. And Dom was in it! I love Dom. So, yay.
Dear Enemy by Jane Webster: I can still remember the day in middle school when, browsing in the school library, I picked up Daddy-Long-Legs. I read the synopsis on the back and instantly figured out the plot, but I read it anyway and loved it. I knew there was a sequel and finally decided that enough was enough–I was going to read it. So I did. It wasn’t as good. I felt like there was too much emphasis on heredity and eugenics for comfort and the romance just…didn’t work for me. The hero never felt like a real person. I will stick with my original love.