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Aug 24

The Archon by Catherine Fisher

Posted on Monday, August 24, 2015 in Fantasy, Reviews, Teen books

This is the second book in the Oracle Prophesies series by Catherine Fisher. It’s set in a world that is the same mix of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece as in the first book (The Oracle). I liked the first book so much that I wanted to read the second in the series and I haven’t regretted that decision.

However, just as I may have said in my review of the first book, I see very little of Greece in the book’s cultural setting (some names, basically). To me, it’s mainly Egypt, but there’s also a confusing goddess that seems to be more inspired by Native American or perhaps (I’m not that knowledgeable when it comes to the latter) Polynesian or African culture. Of course, that in no way ruins the enjoyment of the book.

I like the main character, Mirany, who is a priestess, enough to be able to relate to a her. The other characters are interesting too and the setting and the plot are well written. I don’t know what else to say except that I can recommend this to people who like fantasy that isn’t ‘the usual’. It’s not that different, but different enough, I suppose I should say.

Dec 11

Kidnapping in Kaua’i by Ava Easter

Posted on Thursday, December 11, 2014 in Books, Mystery/Cop, Reviews, Teen books

A few weeks ago, I finished YA mystery, Kidnapping in Kaua’i by Ava Easter. I read it on Wattpad, but it’s also available on Amazon. Compared to the other books on Wattpad, it was a pleasant surprise. Some of the books on Wattpad are quite entertaining, but most of them are works in progress, subject to editing and revising and – hopefully improving. This book was more finished than that, more polished. It was also really good. Not just exciting, fascinating but also very well written. I give it four out of five stars.

The story is about fourteen-year-old Leilani “Lani”, who lives in Kaua’i (one of the Hawaiian islands). She lives with her ‘grandmother’ Tutu, ‘aunt’ Rita, who is an anti-GMO organic farmer, her 13-year-old foster brother, Pano, and four ‘cousins’ who are two sets of fraternal twins, Fred and Frank, 11 and Franny and Faye, 15.

Apart from wondering about her parents, who left her as a baby with Tutu and her family, Lani’s worst concerns is starting high school. That is until she finds a secret field with some strange unknown fruits and begins to have visions about the island’s ancient gods and legends.

The descriptions about Hawaiian mythology is one reason I found this book so fascinating. I knew practically nothing about this pantheon and the beliefs connected to it.

I also enjoyed reading the story from Lani’s perspective. We may not have that much in common, but Lani’s an interesting main character. It’s easy to relate to at least part of her situation. After all, I’ve been a teenage girl too. The other characters are nice too, especially Tutu and aunt Rita, though I really hate the fact that Pano sometimes hunts and kills animals. That’s one thing I do have in common with Lani.

The twin girls, Franny and Faye, use a sort of private language ‘twin speak’ that Lani has begun to understand and eventually, she lets the twins know that she does.

It’s been difficult for Lani and Pano to get along with the Fabulous Four, as the two sets of twins refer to themselves (the Frightening Four, according to Lani), but during the course of this story, eventually the kids come to understand each other better.

Jun 15

The Glass Wall by Madison Adler/Carmen Caine

Posted on Sunday, June 15, 2014 in Fantasy, Reviews, Teen books

For some reason, I neglected to review a number of ebooks that I downloaded for free from Amazon, right after I read them. I’m trying to remedy that now.

Superficially, this book, Beyond the Glass Wall (The Glass Wall), book one in a series of YA urban fantasy books, sounds like any recent YA fantasy book. If I’d read the blurb I probably wouldn’t have bothered reading it. But my list of Kindle freebies is so long and from my view on my Kindle I can’t see what the book is about, just the title. So I did start reading it and I quickly realized that I liked it.

The books starts with the main character, 17-year-old Sydney, moving in with a new foster family. She’s been through this a lot so she’s not all that bothered. However, the family she comes to is very nice and she slowly finds herself warming up to them. Almost right away, she spots a very good-looking guy moving into a house nearby. Sydney soon finds out that he’s far more than just a handsome stranger.

It appears Rafael, the new guy, has superhuman powers, which leads Sydney to suspect he might be some sort of alien, which isn’t quite the case. It takes Sydney a long time to find out exactly what he is. In the meantime, she also meets another extremely handsome guy, Jareth, who is a rock star. He has a mysterious connection to Rafael, though not really a friendly one.

I can’t seem to give this book justice. It still sounds like a cliche. Just take my word for it, this one is really good. I finished it in just a few days, because I wanted to know more about Rafael and Jareth.

I suppose partly it’s because it’s so easy to see everything through Sydney’s eyes. I liked the way she slowly realized that her foster family was different from earlier ones, who she liked, but never felt completely connected to. Right from the start the parents treat her as their own child. Their daughter takes a little longer to connect with Sydney, but she too, comes to view her as a close family member. This book is the first in a series of four. There’s also a prequel, Behind the Mirror, a short story, that is available for free download on Amazon.

Jun 26

Ursula Le Guin

Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2008 in Books, Fantasy, Reviews, Teen books

One summer when I was a child, I was on the Swedish island Ă–land, in the Baltic sea. Being the voracious reader that I’ve always been and still am, I had to go to a library. It was a small library in a very small place, and it probably doesn’t exist anymore. In any case, there was a man, who might have been a librarian, or a teacher and he began to ask me about what books I usually liked to read. I told him, then he walked across to one of the bookshelves and picked out a few books.

They were part of the Earthsea trilogy (now there are a few more books in the series). It was almost like magic. That man had found books that suited me perfectly.

Soon, I bought the whole trilogy. I just had to own the books myself and I also wanted to read the first one, which must have been missing that day in the library.

Ursula LeGuin has created a fascinating world. She must have put a lot of work into it, because the whole world is so evolved.It’s easy to visualize the different islands with their diverse cultures.

The first book, A Wizard of Earthsea, is about a little goatherding boy, Ged, whose mother died when he was very young. Ged turns out to have a talent for magic and ends up helping the village witch. One day, enemies attack Ged’s island and with a mixture of cunning and a little magic he manages to save his village. This eventually leads to his being sent away to become the apprentice of a wizard.

There Ged meets a girl, who he tries to impress, and so ends up in trouble. The wizard he was apprenticed to sends him to Roke, the School of Magic. But the shadow Ged has released follows him everywhere. The rest of the book is about how Ged finally manages to ban the evil he set free, in his youthful folly.

The second book, The Tombs of Atuan, is about a young nameless priestess. She serves some nameless gods and leads a dull and somewhat frightening life. One day a man shows up. Until now, she’s only encountered eunuchs and seen the King’s warriors from afar. The priestess is immediately drawn to the stranger who has dared to penetrate into their sanctum.

She’s supposed to kill him, but finds herself reluctant to do so. Instead, she can’t resist going to see him and talk to him, though that’s the last thing she should do. Arha – the Eaten one – can’t forget him and eventually, it leads to a major change in her life. Ged – because it’s Ged who has shown up again, now as the Arch Mage of Roke – gives her back her name and takes her away from the Tombs where she’s spent all her life, at least as much as she can remember.

Ged was on a quest and he was able to conclude it sucessfully., while helping Tenar – the former Eaten One.

You get the impression Tenar has fallen in love with Ged, but a wizard has to be celibate, so he leaves her. She ends up in a relatively good situation, but overall women don’t count for much in Earthsea.

The third book, The Farthest Shore, is more mature and considerably darker. The magic is beginning to run out, in Earthsea. Since everything is based on magic, nothing else works very well in their society. Ged is accompanied by a young prince, who’s trying to save his realm. It doesn’t take very long for Ged to realize that what is happening, isn’t an accident. Someone’s caused the crisis. The trail leads him all the way into death. It’s a horrifying world, where mothers don’t care about their children and everything is barren and dusty. An endless torment. Even a wizard fears death.

Since there will be more books in the series, you might be able to guess that Ged somehow survives. He doesn’t escape unscathed though. At the end of it all, his hair is grey and he’s lost all his powers. The young prince emerges as a new kind of ruler – the Mage King.

Ged is taken unconscious, to Tenar’s home. By now, she’s been married and had children and is now a widow. Since Ged’s lost his powers, he’s allowed to love a woman.

I’ll comment on the rest of the books in the series later.

If you like evolved fantasy worlds with an entire mythology and history and – an important detail – maps, I think you’ll appreciate Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea series. The characters are memorable and easy to like.

The first book, A Wizard of Earthsea, is in many ways more of a book for children than the others.

The second book, The Tombs of Atuan, is among other things, a love story, very romantic and sad, but if you don’t like that, you’ll find many different layers to the story.

The third book is more grownup and, as I mentioned before, dark. Here, the fear of death is a constant subtext. You begin to understand what’s waiting for Ged and everyone else – but not Tenar – she’s from another culture, and for some reason it means she doesn’t have to fear the bitter afterlife.

It’s easy to get swept up in this world and be fascinated by the islands with their varied cultures. There’s even a people who live their entire lives on the open sea. It’s all described skillfully and vividly by LeGuin.

Perhaps I should mention something I see as negative.The entire world is rather mysgynist – a patriarchal world. Everything of value is owned by men. Women hardly count, except as bearers of heirs and as an unpaid workforce. To begin with the author doesn’t remark on this in any way. You get the impression that she takes it for granted. Perhaps it isn’t too surprising. She was born in the 1920’s.

Later in the series, it seems as if that problem’s caught her attention. You get some insight into the situation, from Tenar’s point of view and in a way, some comments on it. There will be more in the books I’ll go into later on.

This series of books belongs to my very favorites, so I can really recommend it. I hope you’re going to enjoy it as much as I have and as much as i still do.


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