Tag Archives: fiction

Radiance, by Alyson Noël

I spoke in an earlier post about the Immortals series, by Alyson Noël. If you remember, it was not one of my favorites of the YA fiction series I’ve read recently.  However, there is something in the books that keeps me reading them.  Perhaps I just need some closure.

I have not made it to the point that I’ve read Dark Flame, the latest in that series published here in the UK (I believe that the next one, Night Star, has already been published in the US, but there you are).  But when I was given an ARC of Radiance by a co-worker, I was intrigued.  In the Immortals books, one of my favorite characters has become Riley, the younger sister of Ever who became a ghost after the car wreck that killed the rest of Ever’s family.

Radiance is, I believe, classified as for the 9-12 crowd rather than teen, and that’s appropriate because one of the biggest complaints Riley has is that she died before she could become a teenager.  The story tells us what happens after she crosses the bridge with her parents (the one that Ever didn’t cross because she was brought back to mortal life).  She takes on the task of helping those that have become stuck in between the worlds to cross over, and it is said to be the first in a series.

I think that Ms. Noël should stick with this age group because Radiance is an extremely well written and engaging novel when you put it in the 9-12 year old context.  I think that’s what bugs me about the Immortals series…they come across as juvenile, which is saying something considering they are YA fiction and not adult fiction.  Read Radiance, it won’t take you long…but it will stay with you long after you’re done.

Just a quick note about NaNoWriMo…

Yep, that banner across the lightbulb says “Participant” because that’s what I’m going to be, come 1 November 2010.  The National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo to its closer friends, is a project out of the Office of Letters and Light.  I can’t hope to summarise it better than they have themselves, so from their website:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.”

I have friends who have done this and I watched from the sidelines, wishing I had the skill and ability to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  I was missing the point.  Published or not, this program encourages people to write…which is the only way to become a novelist, blogger, or just interesting person to have at parties.  It’s good for my creativity, it’s good for my ability to meet a deadline (which currently is nil), and it’s good for meeting other people just as insane and fascinated by writing as I am.  Should be a good time…I’ll check in here with my progress so stay tuned.

While you’re waiting, head over to NaNoWriMo (gosh, I feel like an insider calling it that!) and check out the other programs on offer with the Office of Letters and Light, like the Young Writers Program, the Great NaNoWriMo Book Drive, the 2010 Night of Writing Dangerously (held in one of my fav cities on the planet, San Francisco), and April’s Script Frenzy.

Cross your fingers…November’s going to be a crazy month here at Well Read.

 

The Black Magician Trilogy, by Trudi Canavan

It has been several months since I finished this trilogy and I’ve been purposefully waiting to add it to the blog because I wasn’t sure what I was going to say.  To be honest I’m still not sure, but I’m going to go on and try to put into words what I’m thinking…I mean, why should this post be different than any other, right?

This trilogy was recommended to me by a co-worker and I can say on a very basic level that I did enjoy it.  The characters are well developed and I felt like I knew them and cared about what happened to them, a vital part of storytelling.  The plot…well, I found myself getting bored a few times because it would crawl along and then BAM! Lots of action!  There would be a plot twist that didn’t really go where I thought it would and not in the “Wow, I didn’t see that awesomeness coming!” kind of way.  It was more the “hmmm, wonder why she decided to go THAT way with the plot” kind of way.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all three books, but felt it was a bit more of a sophomoric effort than the sci-fi/fantasy I normally enjoy.

Sonea is a street kid who runs with a gang of boys in Imardin.  Every year, the magicians from the Guild hold the Purge to drive the undesireables from the city.  This year the gang is front and center at the line of magicians and they launch an assault against the barriers the magicians put up.  None of their weapons or missles make it through save one: Sonea’s stone knocks one of the magicians to the ground.

This means, of course, that she has magic, but the only ones with magic are from the esteemed families, and they are inducted into the guild.  A hunt begins in the first novel, The Magician’s Guild, for Sonea, to bring her into the Guild and train her.  What she does not know is that if she isn’t trained the magic within her could kill her, so she resists the Guild and goes into hiding with the assistance of the Thieves.   Book two, The Novice, follows Sonea’s training in the Guild and leads her to discover a horrible secret about the High Lord.  The third book, predictably enough entitled The High Lord, further investigates that secret as well as brings Sonea into her own as a magician.

There are many characters in the book that I found myself really liking.  Lord Dannyl, Ambassador for the Guild, is one of them.  The relationship that he forms while in the field on assignment with one of the people he meets (I’m purposefully vague here, so I don’t spoil it) is one of the most genuine I’ve found in a novel not set in the real world.   Lord Rothen is the classic father figure, and when Sonea leaves his immediate guardianship I could feel his heartbreak and worry for her.  There were also characters that I didn’t like…the High Lord Akkarin being one of them.  My feelings for him changed by the third book and I felt a bit cheated…here is a fabulously faceted man that we don’t get to know until the end.

If you haven’t read any sci-fi/fantasy before this is a great read to pull you gently into the genre.  Terry Goodkind/Robert Jordan/Mercedes Lackey she is not, but Trudi Canavan did manage to spin an intriguing story in this trilogy.  Grab a copy and let me know what you think.

The Wolves of Mercy Falls, by Maggie Stiefvater

I am going to take a second here and admit that I was hesitant to read these because I normally don’t chose werewolf fiction.  I’m more “kissy-bitey” than I am “kissy-growly.”  However, I’ve been looking at these books in the store for months and finally, on the recommendation of a friend, I bought them.

These books are, in a word, excellent.  While described by some as Twilight with Werewolves, I didn’t think of it that way.  It’s written for teenagers, sure, and it does delve into typical teenage angst, but the concept is new and different, and that is something sorely missing in YA/teen fiction these days.

Grace was attacked by wolves when she was a little girl.  She remembered vividly the feel of the blood and the teeth, and the one wolf that watched from a distance, his yellow eyes troubled.  Every year, she waited for her wolf to appear in the woods behind her house in winter time, and every year he came, yellow eyes searching for her.  When she and her friends meet a boy with familiar yellow eyes, her world turns inside out.

Shiver, the first book in this trilogy, introduces us to Grace and Sam, the yellow-eyed werewolf.  Grace is level-headed and serious, and has been basically taking care of herself for most of her life.  When Sam introduces her to his world, all she can do is think about his last summer, and how the day is coming when he will shiver into wolf form and forget all about her.

The descriptions of the transitions are painful at times, but so realistic that it left me feeling as though werewolves could be real.  As a dog lover myself, I could tell that the author has and understands dogs and pack mentality, because the behavior of the wolves with each other and with humans seemed very believable to me.  The characters were fully formed and I found myself really caring about them.

There really is no way for me to talk about Linger, the second book in the trilogy, without spoilers, so I’ll just say that I was not as happy with it as I was with Shiver.  But the thing that made me unhappy was not the writing or the flow, but the actual plot.  Ms. Stiefvater tells a very good, very complex story, and it seemed to me at a few points in Linger that she was rushing to tie up that chapter so that the book didn’t get too long.  I’m now anxiously awaiting the next installment, something I thought I’d never do with a werewolf book.

This book does an excellent job of touching on subjects that are very real and very important to teenagers, while delving into aspects of adult life as well.  It truly has something for everyone and is not to be missed or overlooked in favor of more fangy reads.  Team Jacob?  This is your book.


Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic is a beautiful book. The characters grab your attention from the very start and hang on until the end. While I haven’t read anything else by Alice Hoffman, I like the style and pace of the book.

Sally and Gillian Owens are orphaned at a young age and go live with their eccentric Aunts.  They find out that for generations the Owens women have had magic, and are generally blamed for everything bad that happens in the New England town where they live.  Each generation the locals basically shun the Owens women, but some unlucky men find themselves in love with an Owens woman and that relationship never ends well.

Sally is determined to change the fate of the women of the Owens family.  Gillian revels in being different and ends up leaving home.   The story unfolds as each girl pursues their own destinies that eventually lead them back to each other and to the town that has a lot to learn about the strength of the  Owens women.

This book speaks to that relationship that happens only between sisters and girlfriends, and I can pick it up time and time again and find new things.  It is beautiful and dark and uplifting and strange, and it has heart.  A truly great read, far far better than the Kidman/Bullock movie, this book is definitely not to be missed.