Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Conspiracy of Kings

By Megan Whalen Turner
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4 1/4 stars
Fans of The Thief, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia will be thrilled to see those familiar characters and settings back in action. This time the focus is not on Gen but on Sophos, who we first met as the magus' apprentice back in The Thief. Very quickly we discover Sophos is now on the threshold of adulthood, but still an intellectual and one who considers himself more a poet and never as an actual possible candidate to be king of Sounis. But all that changes when his remote island villa where he and his mother and sisters were secreted away is attacked by people aiming to kidnap the family. For the first time ever, Sophos has to spring into action and finds himself actually equal to the task. Unfortunately, he is still taken captive, discovering that there is a plot to kill his uncle and replace him with Sophos as a puppet king, taking orders from the rebellious dukes. But it is in his captivity that Sophos begins to realize that maybe, just maybe, he has the right stuff to be a king after all. Filled with politic intrigue and battles, fans of the earlier books will be eager to see how everything turns out as plans turn on a dime and the plots are thick with betrayals from all different corners. Some readers will miss not seeing more of Eugenides, but all in all, a very welcome addition to the Queen's Thief series.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs

By Ron Koertge
Genre: Sports/Realistic Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

This is the sequel to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, but you don't have to know the first book to follow the second. Kevin plays first base, has a writer for a father, and has a cute girlfriend named Mira.  And oh yes, he is also a  poet.  While at an open mic night with his father, Kevin meets Amy, a girl his age who plays a mean piano but is also a poet.  The two strike up a poetry friendship, trading emails daring each other to write different kinds of poetry.  As Kevin tries to balance his environmentally-minded girlfriend with his new friendship with Amy, he feels thrown off balance by his father's return to dating after the death of his mother.  Kevin spills out his story in poetry of all kinds in his journal, which is also the book we are reading.  In turns it is both funny and moving as Kevin tries to figure out teenage life.  How do you kiss your girlfriend while thinking about another girl? And then Kevin discovers Amy has a boyfriend--the perfect Trevor.  Why can't everything be as simple and focused as being in the playoffs?  A very enjoyable book and a fast read, since it is written entirely in poems.  Fun!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Carbon Diaries 2015

By Saci Lloyd
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4 stars

In London in 2015, things aren't all that different from how they are now.  17 year old Laura hankers after her gorgeous next door neighbor and rocks out in a punk band with her friends.  But since the Great Storm, the world has been forced into realizing that global warming and fossil fuel dependence are real issues and Great Britain is the first country, the model for the rest of the world, to begin "carbon rationing."  Basically everyone is charged for how much energy the use individually.  At first things aren't so bad, but then things go from bad to worse.  Droughts and lack of water.  People can't afford to fly anywhere.  Laura's father decides to grow their own food and gets a pig!  And Laura's family starts falling apart: her older sister gets involved in some nefarious dealings with the black market, her mother wants to join a militant women's group, and her father loses his job and wants to be a farmer.  How can an ordinary teenage girl who just wants to rock out be anywhere near normal with all of this going on?  The start is a tad slow as we meet all of Laura's friends and family, but once carbon rationing kicks in, the story gets dead interesting.  And scary, if you think about what could happen in our world.  Fans will be hooked enough by the end to want to read the sequel, The Carbon Diaries 2017.