A Collection of Tales, Tortall style


Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales
Tamora Pierce


“More than twenty years ago, Tamora Pierce first introduced fantasy lovers to the kingdom of Tortall in the novel Alanna.” In the fifteen books that followed, readers have met numerous characters and magical creatures from the land of Tortall. In the book, Tortall and Other Lands, several of Tamora Pierce’s short stories are collected and published for the first time in print.

Several of the stories have new characters that we have not met before. In the story “Nawat,” readers are reacquainted with Nawat and Aly from Wolf Speaker and the darkings from Trickster’s Queen. If you have ever wondered what happens after Trickster’s Queen ends, then you will be pleased to find out in the story “Nawat.” The story “The Dragon’s Tale” brings back Daine and Numair as minor characters in a story that is told from the dragon Kit’s point of view. 

The majority of the stories in this collection are set in Tortall, but there are a few stories that are in new lands. One story, “Huntress,” is even set in present day New York City. Although the majority of the stories are appropriate for preteen readers, “Huntress” has language and content that is on a more mature level. All of the stories are beautifully written in the style that Tamora Pierce fans have come to love and enjoy from her previous works. The dialogue between the characters is believable, and at times quiet humorous. There is even a non-fantasy story, based on events from Tamora Pierce’s life, that will have readers captivated.

Before now, there has never been a collection of Tamora Pierce’s short stories. This collection of tales is the first of its kind, but I hope it won’t be the last.

                                                                             


Review: Lost Voices

Lost Voices
Sarah Porter


Lost Voices is the first novel in a new series that is hauntingly reminiscent of Lord of the Flies and The Chocolate War. In this book, young girls find themselves transforming into mermaids during the most devastating and desolate times of their young lives. When overwhelmed with the horrors of humanity, these young girls from every walk of life release themselves to the power of the sea. Guided by the timahk—laws that govern mermaids—every mermaid joins a tribe and finds the love and family that they might have missed during their human days.

For Luce, one of the newest members of Catarina’s tribe, joining the mermaids was the greatest thing that had happened to her in a long time. Luce was thrilled with her new life and the feelings of acceptance that she found in the other girls. But then Luce learns what it means to really be a mermaid. Sure, her voice is worthy of an angelic choir and her beauty surpasses anything on earth, but are these things really worth living with the guilt associated with being a siren? Luce is haunted by her eagerness to help the other mermaids sink ships and drown innocent humans. Then, Luce discovers a new power in her voice. She quickly learns that she can control the magic in her song, and change her death song into something more positive. Luce is overjoyed by her new knowledge, and wants to share her discovery with the other mermaids. This seems like a great idea, until Anais joins the tribe.

Anais is pure evil in the form of the most radiant mermaid Luce has ever seen. The other mermaids are quickly drawn to her and desire to please her malevolent whims. Despite her power over the other mermaids, Anais doesn’t fool Luce. Luce can see the wickedness at the heart of the captivating mermaid and she wants to stop it. The timahk has always governed the behaviors of the mermaids, but not everyone is willing to follow the rules. Luce quickly learns that some rules have to be broken, and that she might have to stand alone. By the end of the novel, Luce is faced with a decision that will change the way mermaids conduct themselves forever. She is the key to restoring humanity to a race of beings that have been consumed with revenge for a long time. 

Lost Voices is captivating from the first page! Sarah Porter’s beautiful, descriptive language paints vivid pictures of beauty and pain. The sensuous descriptions of each character’s emotion force the reader to bond with the girls in the book. As you read, you can feel Luce’s pain in her memories, and the lust and greed of Anaise. The plot is fast paced, but perfectly developed; the tension that is building among the characters is felt on every page. As you read, you can’t help but notice the struggles of humanity that are felt in some of the modern classics of our times (i.e. Lord of the Flies, The Chocolate War). This series will certainly be worthy of shelf space next to Mr. Cormier and Mr. Golding.

                 


Review: Entice

Entice
Carrie Jones


Fans of the Twilight saga will find plenty of “loves” in this new addition to the paranormal romance genre. Entice is the third book in Carrie Jones’s series. In this book, Zara, the daring heroine, is out to rescue the love-of-her-life werewolf boyfriend, Nick, from Valhalla. (Yes, the same Valhalla from Norse mythology!) During the second book in the series, Captivate, Zara decides to allow the young and gorgeous pixie king Ansley to turn her into a pixie so that she could start her journey to rescue Nick. Ansley seems to be very considerate and understanding of Zara’s need to rescue Nick. He even vows to help her rescue “her wolf.” Zara’s previous experience with pixies has been far from kittens-and-roses innocence, but she willingly allies herself with the young pixie king. Then people close to her start dying. Suddenly, Zara and Ansley find themselves the target of treachery from the pixie world. Unfortunately, neither of them are able to figure out exactly who is responsible for trying to kill them. Ultimately, Zara makes it to Valhalla and has to battle the evil pixie king, Frank, who was responsible for sending Nick to the hall of fallen warriors in the second book. While battling Frank is difficult for the pacifist Zara, it is not her only problem. Zara has to constantly struggle with balancing her friends, family, and her new pixie king.

Jones includes plot twists and danger at every page turn in her third novel. Her writing style is simple and insightful, at least where the main characters are concerned. Capturing the zeal and intensity of teenage romances seems to be one of Jones’s writing strengths. The passion between Nick and Zara is sizzling, and would make Edward and Bella envious. But Nick and Zara aren’t the only characters with sparks. Readers can feel the embers between Zara and Ansley start to ignite, but Jones keeps us waiting to see what will happen between these two characters.

The ending of Entice leaves Zara with many decisions to make, and a secret that could expose Ansley for the type of pixie he really is—friend or foe. The door is wide open for a fourth novel.



                 


review for The Flappers: Vixen

The Flappers: Vixen
Jillian Larkin


Speakeasies. Forbidden romance. Betrayal. Jillian Larkin’s novel Vixen has all of these elements and more! Vixen is the first novel in the new The Flappers series. In this book, Gloria, the beautiful protagonist, is out to claim her identity before her marriage to the prestigious Sebastian Grey.  After one night at the speakeasy the Green Mill, Gloria finds herself changed, but she doesn’t know to what extent. Suddenly, she is more outspoken and mysteriously drawn to Jazz. With her friends Marcus and Lorraine, Gloria continues to frequent the Green Mill despite knowing that her fiancé and mother would be furious if they found out.
  
After several twists and turns (and sultry scenes) Gloria finds herself breaking every rule she has ever known. Her world is changing faster than she thought possible. Gloria starts sneaking out of her house to visit the forbidden speakeasy, protesting against the rules and her pretentious fiancé, and finds herself forming romantic feelings for the club’s taboo pianist, Jerome Johnson. Everything is working out for Gloria until someone betrays her. Could it be Lorraine, her insanely jealous, social-climbing best friend? Clara, her “sweeter than pie” cousin (with a dark secret) from Pennsylvania? Bastian, Gloria’s fiancé with a wicked alter-ego? 


Larkin’s beautiful, descriptive language paints a beautiful setting of 1920s Chicago. Her writing style transports the reader to that fantastic era in American history. Capturing the allure of flappers, speakeasies and gangster-ruled Chicago is certainly one of Larkin’s writing strengths—along with the development of her characters. The passion between Gloria and Jerome is searing, and gives the reader goose bumps. But Jerome and Gloria aren’t the only characters shooting sparks. Readers can feel the passion between Marcus and Clara escalating. 

The ending of Vixen will leave you with your mouth agape. Lies, scandal, murder, and shocking revelations leave Gloria racing towards a new chapter in her life, and embarking on a journey that no previous Chicago socialite has ever been a part of before. But Gloria isn’t the only character facing new adventures. Marcus and Clara have found the beginning of something wonderful, while Lorraine and Bastian are seething in the shadows of jealousy and revenge.

The next book in the series, Ingénue, (set to be published in August 2011) will surely be—as our young flappers would say—“totally Jake.”




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