Posts Tagged Young-adult fiction

The Warrior’s Apprentice – Lois McMaster Bujold

Small but mighty.

Stars: Three and a half of five.

Review format: Note plus links.
The Warrior’s Apprentice – Lois McMaster Bujold. Cover summary: Discharged from the Barrarayan academy after flunking the physical, a discouraged Miles Vorkosigan takes possession of a jumpship and becomes the leader of a mercenary force that expands to a fleet of treasonous proportions. (from the publisher’s website)
Provenance: Baen Free Library… then I bought the containing omnibus, Young Miles, so that I could read the rest of them.
Date Read: Sometime in June or early July.  Review written 3 months late. 😦

This is a very fun book.  It introduces you to seventeen-year-old Miles Vorkosigan, the four-foot-nine heir to a Count within a space empire.  Best of all, if you like this one, you can look forward to 15+ other novels and novellas in the same universe, most starring Miles.

There’s Admiral Naismith, and a great cast of family, comrades, and enemies.  I found that the writing still seemed to lack a little technical competence here and there… but as a package it’s a blast.  A roller-coaster of a space opera.

Ware Spoilers below

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The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the WindA Mighty Wind.

Stars: Four and a half of five.

Review format: Note plus links.
The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss.  Cover summary: So begins the tale of Kvothe—from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more—for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe’s legend. (from the author’s website)
Provenance: Purchased my own copy (trade paperback).  Re-reading in preparation for reading the 2011 sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear.

This is definitely an excellent book:  it gets better in retrospect, and even better on a second read.  The weakest part is the slow timing in the first hundred or two pages.

The first time I read it, it simply did not strike me as a young-adult book – probably because I was so convinced that the ‘real story’ was going to take place in the present day rather than in the flashbacks.  But, in the flashbacks, Kvothe is young: 12, 14, 16.

Really good reviews below

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The Tinkerer’s Daughter – Jamie Sedgwick


Cover for 'The Tinkerer's Daughter'Steam-elf? No punk edge, but still fun.

The Tinkerer’s Daughter by Jamie Sedgwick.

Stars: Three of five.
Cover summary: Breeze is an outcast, a half-breed orphan in a world devastated by 1,000 years of war. She never knew her elven mother. Her father leaves her in the care of a reclusive Tinker, with her true identity safely hidden. Then the war comes and Breeze is exposed. If she has the courage, Breeze has a chance to change the world. If she fails, she’ll be hunted to her death as a traitor. (from smashwords.com)
Provenance: review requested by author, but I bought my own copy via smashwords.com

The Tinkerer’s Daughter is an above-average novel with an engaging main character and fast-paced narrative.  The world-building is kept mostly unobtrusive, but it does depend on the reader’s knowledge of elves to fill in some gaps.  The setting includes inventions of steam-powered vehicles by the Tinkerer, without all-out characteristics of steampunk.  As a food item, I would describe it as fresh popcorn – tasty and not unhealthy, but not a meal.

The main character, Breeze, was the highlight of this book.  Her narrative point of view is enjoyable and easy to read.  The book launches with a tiny bit of background, explaining the racial tensions between humans and elves and also explaining that Breeze is young but will mature very quickly to her adult size.  The triggering event for the novel is her father’s departure to join the war.  As soon as Breeze is fostered off with the Tinkerer, the plot revs up and Breeze is swept up into large-scale action for the rest of the book.  I was definitely drawn in to the story.

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The Fourth Stall – Chris Rylander

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander
Stars: Two and a half stars out of five
Summary: Sixth-grader Mac and his business partner/best friend, Vince will help you with your problems—for a price. Business is going well until a third grader claims he’s being threatened by well-known crime boss and dropout, Staples. First time author Chris Rylander weaves film noir and Godfather themes into a well-written story with a great cast of characters that boys will not be able to put down. (from http://mackinbooksinbloom.com/2011/05/19/elementary-books-for-boys/)
Audience: I think the target audience is kids in grades four to eight… Caveat – your fourth-grader needs to be a precocious reader, while your eighth-grader may be less-interested in a book about sixth graders.  Also, there are no major female characters, so girls who require a girly book will be disappointed.

The Fourth Stall is a kids’ mystery/suspense book, written in the style of Goodfellas or The Godfather.  I requested it from the library based on the surprising descriptions of wise-guys and moral ambiguity via the Excelsior File.

The writing is funny, and the book certainly starts off with witty narration by Mac.  I was amused, but overall a tiny bit disappointed.  I was hoping for laugh-out-loud funny, even absurdity, because of the implausible film-noir tone.  What happened instead was the threat of takeover was real, and there were moral dilemmas in multiple directions.  The energy level stayed fairly consistent throughout, instead of cranking up to antic.  I had hoped for antic. 😉

Along with the wiseguy tone, the characters are the best part of the book. Mac and Vince are solid leads, while the school bullies are amusingly described.

It’s a solidly-written book, but despite styling it after the Godfather it was too light to interest me as an adult.

I will probably request the next novels from Chris Rylander for my kids only.

Spoilers and other reviews below

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