Archive for March, 2012
Rabbi Rocketpower and the Mystery of the Missing Menorahs: A Hanukkah Humdinger by Rabbi Susan Abramson and Aaron Dvorkin; illustrated by Ariel DiOrio
The Passover and Easter holidays are almost upon us, and in a random karmic universal moment (or something), I happened upon this fantastic title… and at a local rummage sale, no less! And sure, I’m about four months off as far as holidays go (this title is clearly about Hanukkah), but it’s one in a series that covers many of the traditionally celebrated Jewish holidays, and Passover has its own title. So, moving forward:
Meet the Mensches, a completely normal family: mom Rabbi Beatrice Ann Mensch (B.A. Mensch, for short) has a superhero alter-ego as Rabbi Rocketpower. Dad is super-smart and has a super-smart computer on which he uses his mad search engine skills to solve epic puzzles. Aaron, their son, is a Super-Boy-In-Training, and his cranky cat Purr (short for Purreneal Pest) is actually an alien. Like I said, pretty normal, right? (more…)
Soulbound by Heather Brewer (Legacy of Tril book one)
What’s worse than being blackmailed to attend a hidden school where you’re treated like a second-class citizen? How about nearly getting eaten by a monster when you arrive? Or learning that your soulmate was killed in a centuries-old secret war? And then there’s the evil king who’s determined to rule the world unless you can stop him…
” – Goodreads
In the land of Tril, war against the Graplar King has ravaged the land for ages, but only a handful of the population really knows it: the Barrons and Healers. Barrons are warriors, and each Barron is soulbound to a Healer who, you guessed it, heal them when they’re injured. Once bound, they are bound for life, and Shadow Academy protocol dictates that they will stay together, the Barron protecting and the Healer lingering in the background out of danger.
Kaya is seventeen, a Healer, and seriously doesn’t like protocol. In fact, she wouldn’t even be at the Academy if they hadn’t threatened her parents (two married Barrons, a serious protocol no-no). When she gets to Shadow Academy, she learns that her soulbound Barron died in battle, and she becomes bound to a new Barron, a gorgeous guy who makes her melt any time he’s around. When Kaya starts meeting others at the school, though, things are not so smooth–Healers are expected to be complacent and serve, something Kaya cannot stop challenging. When her Barron refuses to teach her how to fight, she learns illegally from a young, brooding teacher who, for some reason, seems to have it in for her. As Kaya learns more about the centuries-old war and the people in her new life, she digs herself closer to the truth and further into danger. Nothing is truly as it seems, and Kaya is thrown about in the waves of conflict, both from within academy walls and in the outside war against the Graplar King.
And can you say super-crazy-cliffhangers ten times fast? Fans will be clamoring for the next book before the first is even published! (more…)
Starters by Lissa Price (book one in Starters series)
Review based on an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC)
In a dystopian world in which only the very old and very young have survived, sixteen-year-old Callie is trying to make it on the streets while taking care of her sick younger brother. After the Spore Wars tore the country apart–only the weakest members of society, old and young, received the limited vaccine and survived–there was a strong division between rich and poor. Starters (the young) have virtually no rights, while Enders (adults age sixty through their hundreds) control all. Callie is an unclaimed Starter, legally unable to take a job and with no surviving parents or grandparents as guardian, giving her and her brother little choice but to squat in abandoned buildings to avoid being rounded up and sent to a terrible institutions.
When Callie hears of a company willing to pay Starters under the table, she ends up at Prime Destinations where, with the technology of a neurochip, Elders can “rent” the bodies of Starters for recreation and be young again. Creepy? Yes. Easy money? So it seems. But when Callie’s neurochip malfunctions and she wakes up in the middle of a rental–in her own body but with the belongings and credentials of a wealthy Ender–she discovers that she has been rented for a malicious, illegal purpose, and the high-suspense race to the truth begins. (more…)
Review based on an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC).
Let me start off by saying if you’re not familiar with Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series, go here first to read our review of the first book, Graceling, in this companion book trilogy. It’s a great fantasy adventure with an active, feisty female protagonist, and both Ruby and I loved it (and all consequent books!). If you have read Graceling and it’s companion Fire, carry on.
Bitterblue is, obviously, the long-awaited third book in Cashore’s fantasy world of the Seven Kingdoms. While Graceling focuses on Katsa (a young woman with a killing grace) and Fire goes over the mountains and into the past to show us the Dells and a human monster named Fire, Bitterblue focuses on the young queen of the same name. (Never fear, Katsa and Po fans: they, along with other familiar faces, are woven throughout the pages and in Bitterblue’s life.)
It has been eight years since Bitterblue’s father, the mind-controlling graceling King Leck, was killed, and she has been growing up under the title of Queen of Monsea. Surrounded by old advisors who would like to pardon all crimes under Leck’s horrific reign and pretend those decades never happened, she finds herself under a mountain of paperwork, governing a land she does not feel she knows. At first Bitterblue trusts her advisers’ judgment, but her growing frustration and a sense of ignorance about the reality of her father, his reign, and the people and society of Monsea makes her realize that she has much to learn. In a moment of exasperation, Bitterblue sneaks out of the castle one night in servant’s clothes and finds herself in a crumbling city full of thieves–some friendly, some dangerous–and finally realizes that the “truths” she is being told in her castle are not real. Through her budding relationship with two thieves and printers, Bitterblue slowly learns about her kingdom through her disguise and starts to uncover the fog that Leck left on his subjects, as well as the deceit and misinformation making its way to her palace. As her own mind wakes up to the realities of her kingdom–both beautiful and tragic–and she starts a secret project to uncover who Leck really was and how she can bring her people back to the light. Bitterblue is more of a mental adventure than its predecessors, but it still holds the key ingredients that have made all of Cashore’s books a success, including romance, adventure, suspense and intrigue, and difficult, sometimes philosophical questions about self and others. I loved Bitterblue, and my only (minor) regret is that I didn’t re-read the companion novels before diving in. (more…)