Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Anna and her best friend Frankie are ready to embark on the Absolute Best Summer Ever (ABSE) - a twenty day long vacation in sunny California with Frankie's mom and dad. Convinced Anna's lack of experience in the boy department will finally be fixed in California, Frankie institutes the 20 boys in 20 days plan.

Typical teenage summer love story right?

Wrong. If Sarah Ockler had just left it there, you'd have a fun, light novel but let's just add another layer here, shall we? Anna and Frankie's lives have been forever marred by a horrible tragedy that has become the proverbial pink elephant in the room - one they don't speak about and try to forget ever happened - but which haunts their every day. Feeling like she should be there to support Frankie, Anna has despaired to watch Frankie basically fall apart for the past year all the while holding onto her own secrets and pain. Their summer, although in the guise of meeting boys and escaping the watchful eye of parents, is full of pain, love, loss, forgiveness and just depth.

There are so many breathtaking moments in this book. Anna is a compelling narrator who brings such meaning to a understandably complex and heartbreaking story. Even with these elements of pain and loss, Anna's youth still shines through in her often hilarious interactions with Frankie. Take this scene between Anna and Frankie for instance:

"Frankie, are you serious?"
"Maybe." She half grins, the devil that sits on shoulders in all the old cartoons. The one that's way more cute than scary and therefore causes infinitely more destruction and chaos.

I mean, just listen to that voice. Ockler has done a fabulous job of creating such a exquisite narrator. Anna's descriptions of people and place - especially the ocean - constantly blew me away. The ocean becomes a living, breathing integral part of this book: it holds secrets, dreams, fear and pain and a never-ending supply of colored sea glass. I loved this book - it made me think of the brightness of each new summer and the inherent possibilities of youth. Such a wonderful story that I couldn't have enjoyed more. And the cover? Parfait.

Don't move, Sarah Ocker. Right now, everything is perfect.

A voice to be missed

"Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."

This is a passage from one of my all-time favorite books Angela's Ashes. It's one of my favorites because Frank McCourt is unparalleled in his use of wit to describe his life growing up poor in Limerick, Ireland. This past week, the incomparable Frank McCourt passed away at 78 and I for one will miss his humor and his honesty.

If you haven't read anything by this fabulous writer, I heartily suggest you pick up any of his three memoirs post haste - especially Angela's Ashes on audio book read by the author himself. And just to whet your appetite - here's a clip of the author himself reading a bit about books and libraries from said classic. Enjoy!

Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle

The Honorables Miss Penelope "Pen" and Miss Persephone "Persy" Leland, twins who happen to have been born on Princess Victoria's birthday, are more than looking forward to their presentation at court. They've been prepped for this day for years - even if part of the time their education has been somewhat unconventional. Their governess (Ally), along with teaching them etiquette, Latin, and literature, has been secretly tutoring them in magic for many years. Not exactly something you advertise at court. Persy has always been a bit more bookish of the two and can't help but imagine herself as a failure compared to her poised and self assured sister Pen. But both girls are sure they will be fine as long as the trusted Ally is never far. That is, until she mysteriously disappears.

Both Persy and Pen are convinced something sinister has occurred to their beloved governess - and friend - and begin to discreetly make inquiries as to her whereabouts. They are joined by their little brother Charles, aka Chuckles, who is always up for an adventure and home from school with a broken arm. Chuckles is far too observant and protective for his tender years and happens to be my favorite character by far.

This was such a light, fanciful waltz through time. The Leland family is lovable - with the exception of Persy's constant feelings of inadequacy. The action is nicely distributed against descriptions of dresses, parties, court politics, and even a little romance. The magic portion seemed to almost be an afterthought, but still an interesting addition. A fun, engaging read for any day.

series reading order:
~ Bewitching Season
~ Betraying Season

Fortune and Fate by Sharon Shinn

After King Bayrn was killed during the uprisings led by houses Fortunalt and Gisseltess two years previous, Kings Rider Wen has felt nothing but regret and guilt for letting the king be killed while under her protection. Unable to face her fellow Riders, she refrained from swearing allegiance to Queen Amalie and instead set off in search of redemption - by aiding anyone in need of help. In her travels Wen rescues young Kayrrn Fortunalt - serramarra and future marlady of Fortunalt - from a young man trying to force her into marriage. Finding Wen to be particularly handy with a sword, Kayrrn and her bookish guardian Jasper Palladar ask Wen to stay on at the underprotected Fortune to train a house guard for the serramarra. Feeling a need to keep moving, Wen only agrees to stay at Fortune for a short time, all the while becoming more and more attached to the people of Fortune - especially the serramarra and Jasper.

Back in Gosenhall, Cammon - the Queen's consort - has decided to take a tour of the southern houses and has asked Senneth(!), Tayse, and numerous other soldiers and Riders to accompany him on his journey. I was thrilled to see a new Cammon - one who could easily navigate court politics while simultaneously glad-handing every man, woman, and child they passed on the road. Gone are the days of his complete cluelessness (which I sort of missed), but Cammon can always be counted on to watch out for even the most seemingly insignificant person.

This fifth installment in Sharon Shinn's much loved Twelve Houses series was full of adventure and the loyalty and love that I've come to expect from her characters. This book does depart from the others in that it was much slower moving with more inner character development and less constant and often explosive action. Which was not a bad thing. I quickly grew to love Wen in all her guilt-ridden but selfless heroism. Fantastic writing with nary a hitch.

series reading order:
~ Mystic and Rider
~ The Thirteenth House
~ Dark Moon Defender
~ Reader and Raelynx - my review
~ Fortune and Fate

Marked by PC Cast & Kristin Cast

Even though vampyres are a large part of everyday society - many famous actors, musicians, and artists can be found within their ranks - most people fear and downright hate them. So it's no surprise when Zoey Redbird is unexpectedly marked (a type of tattoo used to identify who and how advanced vampyres are) by the vampyre tracker at her school that her friends and ex-boyfriend are horrified by the change. Not to mention her mother and step-father who couldn't be more disgusted. Zoey's only support comes from her grandmother who takes her to the House of Night (or the Vampyre Finishing School) where she will be trained in all things bloodsucker. Just like any other new school, Zoey makes some new friends quickly and some enemies even faster. The beautiful Aphrodite (guess who chose her own name?) joined with her merry band of sycophants go out of their way to be cruel to Zoey, seeing her as an immediate threat to Aphrodite's domain. But Zoey is unique, specifically called by the goddess Nyx and given special powers that she isn't entirely sure about. All she knows is that she's there to make a change and that it won't be easy.

The whole idea of a vampire finishing school is a interesting concept I just felt like some things were not explained as well as I would have liked (probably why it's a series). For example: Zoey is told she will get sicker and sicker until she goes to live at the House of Night after she is marked but no one explains why the house makes her better. They don't give any special medicine or make them drink blood yet so why the importance? Despite that, every character seems very real to me: I could hear Stevie Rae's twang and loved the Twins banter. Zoey was also great - full of self confidence but totally relaxed with friends. The only person who I felt was pretty darn flat was Erik Night - the hot guy who catches Zoey's eye. Not much too the boy besides being good looking. Maybe he'll get interesting in the coming books. My one major gripe with this book was how preachy it can be at times. Zoey goes off on little rants on a variety of topics including teenage drinking and drug use, makeup styles, cats, and even sexual practices which I felt were a little too pedantic for a teenager to be sprouting off. Other than that it moved along at a nice clip - it just didn't wow me by any means.

series reading order:
~ Marked
~ Betrayed
~ Chosen
~ Untamed
~ Hunted
~ Tempted to be released October 27, 2009

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

After being locked up by a group of 'scientists' bent on studying teens with supernatural powers, Chloe is desperate to escape to find out what has happened to her friends Simon, a sorcerer, and Derek, a werewolf. Chloe also discovers that she and the other teens from the Lyle Group home were genetically modified as babies in hopes of creating supernaturals without any side effects. Only things went wrong with the experiment and none of the teens are aware how uncontrollable their powers have become. Chloe herself tries to come to grips with betrayal and her own talent for seeing ghosts and proves herself to be an extraordinary girl time and again.

I am totally digging this series. I love that Kelley Armstrong doesn't force character development and relationships to happen. She allows Chloe, Derek, Simon and even Tori to go along, make choices and by doing so shows you their growth instead of just telling about it. There is also some definite potential in Chloe and Derek's relationship - I just love these two by the way. By the same token, Armstrong thankfully has allowed things to go slow with them to the point that the relationship has built to something completely believable. The reader can easily understand every exchange, even when all is not explained. My kind of book. My only complaint is it all went by too fast - the action is literally non-stop. But all that action brings some serious information to light and I for one can NOT wait for the next book, I'm sure it will only get better.

series reading order:
~ The Summoning - my review
~ The Awakening

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary's life has always been simple: protect your family, follow the Sisterhood, and stay away from the Unconsecrated in the Forest of Hands and Teeth. This is the only life she's ever known: a village surrounded by fences with the large Cathedral dominating every day life. But Mary's mother always told her stories of the ocean and Mary is sure there must be something outside of their tiny village. After the fence is unexpectedly breached and the town is overrun with Unconsecrated, Mary flees with her brother and his wife and her childhood friends Cass, Harry and Travis through a series of gates without any clue as to where they will lead.

Let me start by saying how much I enjoyed Carrie Ryan's writing style: it is filled with beautiful descriptions (including a lovely title) and has a wonderful ebb and flow of action. I also thought her world building was pretty solid and full of interesting ideas - the whole idea of how the village establishes its own customs and religious ideals intrigues me. That said, I could not stand the character of Mary - or really any of the others for that matter. She seemed selfish, immature and seemingly incapable of the love the author keeps telling you she possesses. None of the characters were developed adequately for my tastes and consequently I never understood why she loved Travis so much or why others were drawn to her. Over and over again everyone asks Mary what will make her happy - I got so sick of that question by the end. Mostly because Mary proved time and again that whatever she felt like would make her happy would occur no matter the cost to anyone else. Yuck.

The Road Home by Ellen Emerson White

I haven't read a book that I enjoyed this much in a long time. I say enjoyed, but really it was more like being swept away on the emotional hurricane that is Lt. Rebecca Phillips. The Road Home made me bust out laughing, had me on the edge of my seat with fear and dread, and even made me cry a few times. I hardly ever cry over a book but this one had such an emotional impact I couldn't help but feel every moment of heartbreak, turmoil and even happiness in Rebecca's story.

After losing the love of her life/childhood sweetheart to the Vietnam war and her beloved brother who flees to Canada to escape the draft, Ivy Leaguer Rebecca Phillips impulsively joins as a nurse and is assigned one year of active duty in Vietnam. Still hurting from her profound loss and estrangement from her family, Rebecca is forced to daily face the challenges of the emergency room where she and her co-workers try to save the men (boys really) who have been bombed, shot at, set on fire, or just gotten sick from the various diseases lurking in the jungle. If that weren't enough to mess with someone's head, after impulsively jumping in a helicopter (which she should never have gotten on in the first place) and being shot down over the jungle, Rebecca spends several days MIA in the jungle fleeing for her life until she stumbles upon a squad of American soldiers. Among the soldiers is Michael, a surly grunt, whose letters become a lifeline to Rebecca after her return to the hospital. Michael is so real to me - his fears and glimpses of hope are all contained in his letters and just like Rebecca, I couldn't wait to read his latest. Upon her return from Vietnam, Rebecca comes home to find herself, her family and friends all changed beyond recognition. Her struggle to find her place is the World after being a part of such brutality and pain is what makes Rebecca's story so breathtaking.

White's characters were so solid. Of course I loved Michael but one of my favorites is the cerebral Major, one of the head nurses at the field hospital. Her perfectness is legendary but so is her leniency with Rebecca. I most enjoyed their night time conversations - often requiring major mental gymnastics - where Major Doyle brought such depth and honesty to Rebecca's questions.

I really don't know much about the Vietnam war. It seems to me they sort of glossed over that section in history (it was bad and lots of people died. the end). I knew there was plenty of controversy and that veterans were not treated with respect but I really didn't understand how it all fit together until I read this powerful book. Rebecca's story is full of loss and utter depression but her journey for a chance at happiness and hope was just so real to me.

On a side note, I did feel like I had stumbled into the book mid-series and kept wondering if I was missing something. Turns out I was right. Ellen Emerson White (writing as Zack Emerson) wrote a series of four books called The Echo Company which follows Michael's company. It turns out White felt like she had to finish Rebecca's story (which begins in these books) and thus wrote The Road Home as a sort of conclusion. They are pretty hard to find, but I am hoping to get my hands on what will surley prove to be excellent reading.

Cast in Courtlight by Michelle Sagara

Kaylin Neya is in over her head. After defeating age-old magic bent on destruction (when is it ever not?) she is summoned to the Barrani High Court to heal the Lord of the West March, second son of the powerful Lord of the High Courts. Being summoned to the Barrani courts (especially when you're not Barrani) is never a good thing and Kaylin must remain on her toes to come out unscathed when dealing with this arrogant and treacherous race. Never far from her side is the enigmatic Severn who I for one was happy to get to know better. As Kaylin and Severn slowly unravel the mystery of why they were called to court and it's importance to Elantra at large, they discover an ancient evil that is threatening to take over. Kaylin must rely on her magic - which is only spotty at best - and her instincts which tell her the solution might be the simplest one of all.

I was much more impressed by Michelle Sagara's world building in this book. I was pretty frustrated while reading the first one, Cast in Shadow, becuase I didn't know what was happening most of the time. Maybe it's becuase I already had a decent background of the five races and their politics but I felt drawn into this story from the very outset. Cast in Courtlight gave a truly fascinating look at the Barrani culture and history - actually, I enjoyed just learning about the race in general. And Kaylin is complicated - full of ability but hesitant to use it. She also doesn't know when to shut up - an admirable quality in any heroine in my books. I'm definitely going to go for book three now.

series reading order:
~ Cast in Shadow - my review
~ Cast in Courtlight
~ Cast in Secret
~ Cast in Fury

Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Picking up this last (or most recent) book in Juliet Marillier's much loved Sevenwaters series, I was totally geared up for a much desired in-depth look at Laiden and Bran's son (from Son of the Shadows) Johnny. As I started reading and found out, no, this is his cousin's Clodagh story, I sorta scratched my head and felt a little cheated. Boy howdy, was I ever wrong about being disappointed. (Of course) Clodagh's story was sublime, beautiful and probably my favorite so far. I should simply be grateful for any story Marillier tells and stop having expectations because frankly, any story she writes comes out magic.

In the midst of her six sisters, Clodagh is happy to be known as the 'domestic' one, usually to be found helping her mother organize and run the Sevenwaters household. So it's natural that she fills this role as her mother becomes ill with an unexpected pregnancy late in life. Her mother, Aisling, is convinced she carries the long awaited male heir she has previously failed to deliver. Clodagh and her family are anxious for their mother's health but when the baby is born and is taken suddenly from their home while Clodagh was keeping watch, suspicion and hurt abound as everyone is devastated by his disappearance. Clodagh alone is convinced that the baby was not stolen by a rival clansmen for political gain but by the Fair Folk and so she sets off on a perilous journey to bring him back. Not alone, Clodagh is accompanied by the prickly Cathal, one of Johnny's painted men, who she is stumped as to why he would 1) not only believe her tale but 2) be willing to help her accomplish her goal as he has been nothing but rude to her. Cathal has his own secrets (more than your average painted man's) and it quickly becomes apparent to Clodagh that she can't succeed without his help.

Clodagh and Cathal's story was exactly what I wanted even though I wasn't expecting it. Clodagh is resourceful, stubbornly loyal, and so compassionate I couldn't help but love her as she faced impossible challenges. At one point even her own family distrusts her and she never stops loving or trusting them even though their coldness has devastated her. After reading this unexpected book I find myself hoping Marillier has plans to revisit Sevenwaters again. In the near future, that is. Please hurry.

series reading order:
~ Daughter of the Forest - my review
~ Son of the Shadows - my review
~ Child of the Prophecy - my review
~ Heir to Sevenwaters

Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier

This third book in the amazing Sevenwater's series (truly, you should read them now) continues with the story of the family's three-generation long struggle to safeguard the forests and the fae folk who dwell there which surrounds their home Sevenwaters. Raised by the outcast druid Ciaran and her grandmother, the evil sorceress Lady Oonagh, Fianne has been trained since birth to master the magic that would be able to destroy the Sevenwaters family. Believing this her only choice, Fainne is sent to Sevenwaters with explicit instructions from her grandmother to do her bidding or those she loves will suffer. Fainne finds herself being lulled into the companionable atmosphere at Sevenwaters even though she knows what she must accomplish will hurt those that she grows to love.

Fainne's story seems more to delve into how people see themselves - as good or evil - and the lengths they will go to either change or keep that perception. Fainne has had one idea drilled into her head for so long that despite the many times her family tells her otherwise, she struggles to believe it. That said, I did have a little trouble relating to Fainne. With Sorcha and Laidan in the previous two books, I felt an immediate connection that even though I enjoyed this story it made me feel as if something was missing. Fainne is a wonderful character with strength and courage but I found it hard to connect with her choices and sorrows. Even though she is forced, she still has to do some horrible things that fill her with long lasting self-loathing and guilt. Like others, I've found in Marillier's books, her characters always face extreme hardships and suffering before they can achieve happiness - this is pretty standard. But I felt Fainne's reward for her struggles didn't adequately compensate for the hardships she had faced up to that point. I guess it had me feeling a little down after finishing. But it was still a lovely book full loyalty and trust and beautiful Irish stories inherent in any of Marillier's wonderful books.

series reading order:
~ Daughter of the Forest - my review
~ Son of the Shadows - my review
~ Child of the Prophecy
~ Heir to Sevenwaters

On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God by Louise Rennison

I hereby admit that I am a fan-girl of Georgia Nicolson.

Once again, Georgia did not disappoint. This second book in Louise Rennison's all too funny series about young Georgia Nicolson - British teenager extraordinaire - was perfect. It picks up just after she has discovered that Vati (her father) will be moving her family to Kiwi-a-gogo Land (New Zealand) and thus her life is effectually over. After snagging (and snogging) the Sex God (aka Robbie) in the previous book, Georgia is still up to her old tricks - figuring out new ways to annoy her teachers, avoiding Wet Lindsay, and trying to figure out exactly what a boy means by "I'll see you later."? I really don't know how she gets into the messes she does but I can't help but enjoy every minute of her crazy life.

Georgia's life is detailed in irreverent diary entries where she honestly lays down the good, the bad, and the ugly of teendom without ever becoming preachy or campy. She is completely self-centered but still entirely lovable in the way only teenagers can be. I love the scrapes she gets into and I love, love how she tries to explain new concepts to her friends. I about split my shorts laughing when she tried to explain to the Ace gang how Dave the Laugh will become her Red Herring. Fabbity fab fab.

All I can say is Louise Rennison should be very careful to not be drinking anything while she comes up with some of the stuff Georgia gets herself into. I know from sad experience it shouldn't be attempted.

series reading order:
~ Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging
~ On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God
~ Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas
~ Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants
~ Away Laughing on a Fast Camel
~ Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers
~ Startled by His Furry Shorts
~ Love is a Many Trousered Thing
~ Stop in the Name of Pants!
~ Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Stop me if you've heard this one before:

Girl moves to new city. New, rich, and perfect boy shows up to school and immediately shows marked attention to girl. Boy has all kinds of odd abilities - moves fast, is drop dead gorgeous, never eats - and girl can't figure him out but can't stay away either.

Ring any bells?

I felt like I had already read the first hundred pages or so in this Twilight wannabe where Ever loses her family in a tragic car accident and moves in with her aunt in California. After the accident, Ever can see aura's and read minds - which causes no end of turmoil in her backstabbing and hormone driven high school. Then she meets the mysterious Damen and finds herself drawn to him even though she doesn't understand him. Blah, blah, blah, then someone tries to kill Ever blah, blah, blah and Damen tries to prove he is worthy of her love.

Okay, maybe I'm more than a little harsh in this review, but I felt the story was just so flimsy. The explanations for Damen's behavior were more than a little weak and his whole history more than a little implausible. Alyson Noel gives the reader just enough a glimpse into his back story to think "ok, I can sorta see it.." then changes the subject and never goes back to anything more substantial. And let's not even get me started on the villain in this one shall we? One word: CARDBOARD. And how Ever escapes from her? My eyes are still a-rollin'. The one thing I did like were Ever's geeky friends Haven and Miles. Their lunchtime conversations were much appreciated.

I'm sure some teenage girls will eat this one up but as for me, I'd have rather just reread Twilight and get it over with.

reading order:
~ Evermore
~ Blue Moon

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell has uncovered the secret to success.

Except it's not what you think.

Recall the stereotypical story of the American dream - a self made man who by hard work and pluck ended up making millions and changing the world. Think he just got lucky? Well, no. Gladwell postulates that his millions and fame came from one source: good old fashioned hard work. Lots of hard work that is. In this fascinating book, Gladwell picks apart, case by case, some of the most successful people (outliers) in our society to truly discover the story of their success. Bill Gates, the Beatles, and Canadian hockey players to name a few. Gladwell's main thesis is that yes, these people are smart and talented enough to go far, but it was/is due to their extreme hard work that brought them to the pinnacle of their profession. He seems to believe that 10,000 hours is the magic number and most likely anyone who puts in that amount of time will become a master at what they do.

Some of his ideas I already agree with: that genius (having a coveted high IQ) doesn't necessarily equate results. Someone can be brilliant and never do anything significant with their life. Also, the idea that culture plays a large role in how you identify with success: the whole idea that Americans believe they are 'entitled' to better jobs, education, etc. simply becuase they are American. And lastly, the notion that no matter how hard you work at something, unless you are in the right time, at the right place, surrounded by the right connections then your achievement will go unappreciated. Sad, yet true - a large portion of your success depends largely on circumstances.

This book was highly fascinating and a very quick read. I only wish he had left off the last chapter which describes his family history. I know he was illustrating a point, but I felt like it could have been easily left out and the book itself might have ended a little better.

The main thing I took from this book? If you want something bad enough, you better be willing to put in the time to become the best...and then hope you are born at the right time when your skill will be the most sought-after.

Summer Reading Blitz Windup

A month ago I entered the Summer Reading Blitz challenge hosted by Readings and Ruminations in which each participant sets out to read 30 books in 30 days (or a book a day for the month of June).

My final reading total? ...23 books!!

Not too shabby. I was quite pleased with myself even though I didn't make my actual goal - I still feel pretty good about my progress. I attacked some books and series that I had been wanting to read for quite some time and that made for some wonderful reading. My favorites from the month have to be Silent on the Moor (cause Brisbane is delicious) and Daughter of the Forest (and because Marillier is magic with a pen) - both were wonderful books I can see myself sinking into time and again. This was a fun challenge that I seriously enjoyed participating in.

The Whole Shebang or books I read while I neglected housework and other nonessential functions for a month:

1. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork - my review
2. Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin - my reivew
3. 'Tis by Frank McCourt - my review
4. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson - my review
5. Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund - my review
6. Under the Rose by Diana Peterfreund - my review
7. Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara - my review
8. A Room With a View by E.M. Forester - my review wherein I rave about this book
9. Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn - my review
10. Stray by Rachel Vincent - my review
11. The Treasure Keeper by Shana Abé
12. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce - my review
13. In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce - my review
14. The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne - my review
15. Little Lady, Big Apple by Hester Browne - my review
16. The Little Lady Agency and the Prince by Hester Browne - my review
17. The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce - my review
18. Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
19: One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
20. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier - my review
21. Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier - my review
22. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - review coming soon - it will blow your mind, the book will that is...
23. Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce - my review

What was your favorite book from the month of June?

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

Upon receiving this last book in Tamora Pierce's fabulous Song of the Lioness quartet, I must admit I was worried. Okay, not truly worried, but nervous that Pierce wouldn't be able to address my many questions and thoughts properly in this last book. Then I noticed the book was over 400 pages and I knew Pierce had given herself plenty of space to discuss each facet of Alanna's story in the detail it deserved. I was not disappointed - shame on me for even doubting.

Alanna of Trebond, the only female Knight of Tortall, has achieved her dream. She has gained her knights shield, she has had numerous adventures, and her fame with sword and magic have spread all over the country. I just loved it when everyone is talking about how the little girls in the streets play "Alanna and Duke Roger!" Let's hear it for female role models! But her Gift keeps warning her that all is not right with her friends in beloved Tortall. In order to save Tortall from dissension and sorcery, Alanna must obtain the Jewel of Dominion, the one thing that, if used wisely, can have great power for good. Several of Alanna's old enemies resurface (ones I had thought were gone for good) are they prove to be more deadly and conniving than ever and it will take everything Alanna and her friends have to combat these old foes.

Alanna's faithful friends are never far from the action including the much changed Prince Jonathan, Myles (her adopted father), gruff Coram, her cat Faithful, and of course the lovable George. She is even joined on this adventure by some new faces - a Shang warrior and an outcast princess - who brought additional depth to Alanna's character. I was so pleased with Alanna's choices in this book - she truly proves herself to be a strong woman and a knight and I couldn't have enjoyed reading her story more.

reading order:
~ Alanna: The First Adventure
~ In the Hand of the Goddess
~ The Woman Who Rides Like a Man
~ Lioness Rampant

Summer Reading Blitz update: 23/30