Monday, September 12, 2011

What I've Read This Week Part I

What I've Read This Week Part I . . .

Ruby Red (Ruby Red trilogy book 1)  by Kerstin Gier, translated by Anthea Bell -- Young Adult fantasy

Sixteen-year-old Gwynneth Shepherd is an average teenage girl living in London and attending high school. She just happens to be able to talk to ghosts. That's not the only weird thing about her. Her great-aunt has visions and her cousin is expected to inherit the time travel gene that is passed down through the female line of the family. Beautiful, intelligent cousin Charlotte Montrose has been raised with the secret knowledge of the time travel society to which the family belongs. However, the Montrose family is in for a shock became it's not Charlotte that has inherited the gene, it's Gwen! Gwen unexpectedly and uncontrollably finds herself traveling through time. Gwen is suddenly thrust into a world of which she knows nothing about. Secrets come to light and questions are raised about her past. Gwen wants nothing to do with time travel but she begins to see the benefits thanks to the beautiful costumes she gets to wear and the handsome young man who has been assigned to time travel with her. Together Gwen and Gideon must visit their ancestors in the past to obtain the blood needed to run the chronometer (the device which makes time travel happen). They must also discover the whereabouts of Gwen's cousin Lucy and Gideon's relative Paul who stole the original chronometer long ago. Gwen's mother puts doubts in her head about whether to trust this secret society or not. Through it all her best friend Lesley is an enthusiastic supporter, willing to research whatever is necessary to help Gwen figure out what's going on and who to trust. The book ends with an action packed cliffhanger and more secrets that cause more questions. Despite the rapid pace of the story and the endless questions it raises, I loved this book. I'm hooked on trying to solve the mysteries, especially as the reader is privy to information Gwen is not. I loved the costumes and the adventure, the quirky characters and the gorgeous cover of the novel. This book is a must-read for young adults and those young at heart. If you think you know time travel stories, think again and read this book! I can't wait for the next two volumes to be released.

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine -- Middle Grades Fantasy

Elodie has been sent from her home on a farm to the city of Two Castles to apprentice as a weaver. Elodie has other plans for herself. She dreams of becoming a mansioner (actor). Mansioning is her passion and she's constantly reinventing her life to make it into a mansion. It's a good thing to because her first day in Two Castles doesn't go as planned. First she's dressed differently than everyone else, then she's robbed and finally, she's told there is no place for a free mansion apprentice. Luckily for Elodie, she's befriended by a dragon Masteress Meenore. IT (only dragons know their own gender) offers to hire Elodie to proclaim IT's prowess at deducting and reasoning to solve mysteries. Business is slow until the ogre Count Jonty Um comes to Masteress Meenore for help. Elodie quickly realizes that Count Jonty Um is warm and friendly but the citizens of Two Castles don't see him that way and he fears his life is in danger. Masteress Meenore sends Elodie to Count Jonty Om's castle to solve the mystery of who has been robbing him and who wishes him dead. Elodie finds her mansioning skills put to the test in addition to her new found skills of deduction and induction as she races to solve the mystery before the kind ogre is no more. This is another adorable middle grades fantasy novel by the author of one of my favorite books ever, Ella Enchanted. It features a fully developed medieval type world complete with peculiar speech patterns and accents. I love detail oriented authors who develp fully fleshed out worlds. It's much easier to become engaged in the story. I found Elodie charming despite her youthful enthusiasm and empathized with her struggles. Mastresss Meenore is a great multi-dimensional character and Count Jonty Um is not at all like Shrek though they are both ogres. This book teaches kids lessons on acceptance, using common sense and perseverance. I enjoyed this so much, I hope it becomes a series. I highly recommend it for ages 8 and up.

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