Fall for Lauren Kate’s Fallen

Have you ever met someone that left you stunned? You think that somewhere you’ve seen that smile before. The goose bumps crawl across your arms and neck as you try to place the hair and the eyes into any memory you’ve ever had. It’s impossible. You know you have never met, but you can’t let go of that feeling. Then, he flips you off and gives you the cold shoulder. That’s the relationship that begins between Luce and her brand new reform school crush, Daniel.

Luce has had some problems in her past, a mysterious fire that she can’t explain and shadows that flit through her peripheral vision more often than she would like. Her parents, desperate to figure out how to help their daughter, send her to a reform school where she would be strictly monitored. So began a parade of interesting characters that would make Luce’s experience at Sword & Cross anything but typical.

Fallen’s imaginative plot arc takes the classic story of enduring love to a whole new level. Luce is a character that, while not a kick ass heroine, is an honestly lonely girl that just wants to know what’s wrong with her. You can’t always start with a character that knows who she is and what she’s setting out to do, that’s part of the journey! Kate’s characters speak to a side of teenagers that we hardly see in YA lit—a realistic need to just be a teen. Throughout the somewhat mundane, there is always an eerie quality that saturates the narrative. From the creepy feeling that she’s seen Daniel before to the bone chilling sensation the reader gets when Luce talks to Cam for the first time, Fallen does not fail to deliver on atmosphere.

The follow up to Fallen, Torment, continues to impress the reader with intricate plot twists. Often the reader will feel as if there is a wealth of information just beyond the veil and any hint of dialogue will reveal everything we’ve been dying to know. The battle for true love wages on while Luce continues to feel as if everything is being turned upside down on her. The past haunts her every shadow and Daniel is just as infuriating as ever. With clever quips that made me laugh out loud and run to share with my friends, Torment kept my attention and entertained me though it ripped out my heart and broke it into a million pieces. I was, however, promised redemption in the next installment, Passion. Fans of Fallen will definitely love this heart aching sequel and will continue to ache until Passion comes to clear away our doubt and fears. Readers who have yet to get involved with Lauren Kate’s enchanting characters would do well to give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed. I was incredibly lucky to have an opportunity to talk with the lovely and charming Lauren Kate (seriously, she’s the nicest person). Come back later to check out that interview!


Karma Can Be Delicious

Karma Bites is a novel about a feisty red head, torn between her two best friends on the opposite ends of the social spectrum. Franny is often stuck in a metaphysical tug-o-war between her two best friends and wishes that they could all just get along. Middle school drama couples with the reality of at home drama when we see that Franny’s family is suffering too. Her parents have split, her twin brothers constantly fight, and her spaced out Grandmother is not helping the situation. Franny’s granny is equal parts hippie and yoga enthusiast. Franny finds out that her grandmother has much more to offer than tofu and granola. In the recesses of her closet there is a magical box that contains the recipes to cure what ails you. To Franny this spells out the end of the middle school blues, the end of her parents’ split, and the beginning of a new and wonderful life. Karma won’t let her get away with taking the easy escape, things get wildly out of hand and Franny is left to clean up the mess while the school’s resident mean girl glares on in harsh judgment.

Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas created a beautiful thing here, a charming fantasy that is deeply rooted in reality. Magic weaves with our real lives on a daily basis, it’s astonishing to see it told to us in this novel. Franny’s problems are shared by millions of teens and preteens across the world. It’s no secret that it sucks when your parents split. It’s hard when your parents try to move on but you’re stuck in the past. We all have friends that we just can’t reconcile, the mean girl that always stands in our way, mean English teachers, and awful cafeteria ladies. This novel uses Franny’s life to show that there is no magical solution to fix our problems. You can’t just expect everything to be okay when you’ve put absolutely no work into the balance or the solution. This novel teaches a wonderful lesson, being yourself and talking things out can work magic better than spells or potions.

One of the things I loved about this novel is that there was an obscure love interest that never took the reins and led the novel. It’s about friendship and discovering what it takes to figure out your own life. The writing was clean with sarcasm layered through the dialogue. There was good humor and clever humor that I could not resist. The characters were brilliant. I, personally, would love to have a character like Granny in my life. I recommend this novel for anyone that’s tired of overused fantasy and wants to see where real magic might be found in their lives. It’s also pretty nifty if you want to try some new recipes. If I liked banana bread, I’d have made that Be Better Banana Bread a long time ago to break my writer’s block.

Check out Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas on Twitter. Their new novel can be found at Borders, here. Also, check out their web site and show them some love.

Happy Reading.

P.S- I’m back.

Flashback: Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce’s career was launched in the early 80’s with the release of Alanna: The First Adventure. This was the beginning of the quartet of novels titled The Song of the Lioness. From there, Pierce continued to release a new novel every couple of years. With 26 novels completed and more on the way (some of which are going to be the highlight of my life), she is one of the most prominent fantasy writers for the Young Adult genre.

Her novels have been re-released over and over again with new faces, and there’s no doubt as to why. Her command of fantasy elements keeps the reader stuck fast to the page, unable to leave her wonderful characters until their story has been completed. Every time I introduce Pierce to someone, they always come back for more.

Her most recent book, Bloodhound, is the second book of the Beka Cooper series. This series is about a young girl that starts out as a trainee for the Provost’s Guard (essentially training to be a police officer). The series is about her dogged determination and how she will not let crimes go unpunished. She gets involved with some rather tricky situations but instead of walking away, she sinks her teeth in and never lets go. Terrier is the first book of the series and the third, Mastiff, is rumored to be released in 2011. The excitement sets my blood fizzing.

My favorite stories by Pierce are set in the circle universe. The first quartet set in this universe was titled The Circle of Magic. This quartet introduced four youths that had been rejected or abandoned by society in certain ways. They come from all different walks of life, from the richest to the poorest. Sandry is a noble girl that was left alone while the town she was visiting suffered from a vicious plague. Daja is a ship trader– her ship was destroyed in a storm leaving her stranded in the middle of the ocean. Tris came from a merchant family and was passed around whenever anything went wrong around her. Lastly, there’s Briar the thief. He was about to be sent away for good, but he was saved at the last-minute like the rest of the characters by a mysterious mage that knew there was something worth saving. Niklaren Goldeye found each child and brought them to the Winding Circle Temple because somehow he know that was where they belonged. Together these kids learned what made them so special, they found the spark of magic that helped Niko to find them in the first place. They forged a bond that went deeper than blood. They were bound by magic.

There was a followup quartet called The Circle Opens which explores each character out in the world on their own. They are a little bit older and have seen so many things that they probably shouldn’t have. Now they have to make choices about their futures and who they’re going to grow up to be. They also have to learn what being a mage really means for them.

Other titles set in this world are Will of the Empress and Melting Stones. There are rumors of more novels set in the circle universe, which I personally hope are true.

What I love about Pierce is that her stories are so easy to relate to. Her plot lines do not pander to teenage daydreams, romances that look like they won’t work out but end up being the best thing ever and how could she live without him? Her characters are realistic in their personalities and their behaviors. Their interactions are honest and true to their development. She tests their character time and again with difficult problems and horrible truths. Her female characters tend to be strong and independent, standing in the face of adversity and not letting their weaknesses get the better of them. Most of them use that weakness to fuel their strength.

I highly recommend her books for teenagers today. Most novels that come out for teen girls have female leads that are pushovers, waiting for their true love to fix everything. What if true love can’t fix everything? What happens then? Tamora Pierce offers a brand of story telling that doesn’t rely on love to be the story. Pierce has been a pioneer in this genre for a long time and she never ceases to amaze.

Check out Tamora Pierce online to see her compendium of novels and to find out a bit more about this remarkable author. Her books can be purchased here.