The False Prince

I’m a kind of ashamed by how little I’ve managed to read this weekend. (It’s been a four-day weekend for me. Under normal circumstances, I might have finished at least four books.) Thanks to a doctor’s appointment, spending time with family, napping, cleaning, worrying about blood test results (which turned out fine, by the way), and watching way too much TV, I just didn’t have it in me to read much this weekend. It didn’t help that I was finding it hard to get into the book I had chosen to read, so, last night, I picked up a different book. I’d been meaning to read Jennifer A. Nielsen’s The False Prince for a while, and I decided that this book would be the one to get me out of my slump. How right I was! This book was totally engrossing, surprising, and it kept me guessing until the very end. I finished it just a few minutes ago, roughly sixteen hours after I started reading it (and that was with breaks for things like sleeping, eating, and trekking to the pharmacy). The False Prince delivers on adventure, humor, and mystery and is an excellent book for readers from upper elementary grades through adulthood. This is one book (of many I’ve read) that can’t be limited to just one age group.

The kingdom of Carthya is on the verge of war. The king, queen, and crown prince have all been murdered, and one man, Conner, has a plan to place a “false prince” on the throne–a boy who will take the place of Prince Jaron, the long-lost second son of the king and queen. He just needs to find the right boy. He searches local orphanages, and four boys are initially chosen to vie for the title of future king. One of those boys is Sage. From the beginning, Sage is hard to control. He wants nothing to do with Conner’s plan…until he realizes that failure means certain death.

It’s not always easy for sage to toe the line with Conner. He gets into considerable trouble and is punished severely. Eventually, though, Sage does what he must to convince Conner that he is the boy who should be prince, but he wonders what Conner isn’t telling him and the other boys. Why is he so sure that Prince Jaron is dead when his body was never found? What does Conner have to gain by placing an imposter on the throne? What will really happen to the boys who are not chosen for this role? Yes, Conner definitely has his secrets–some of them deadly–but he’s not the only one who’s keeping secrets. Sage knows that someone else has secrets that could turn Conner’s many plans into nothing but ash…

As Sage attempts to learn all he can to pass for the missing prince, he’s also on a quest to discover just what is going on around him. Is there anyone he can truly trust? And how will Conner, the other boys, and those he’s grown close to react when Sage’s many secrets are revealed? How will the revelation impact Conner’s plans for the throne? Discover the truth when you read The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen!

I haven’t even hinted how wonderful this book is…even though I may have hinted at a couple of major plot points. :-) The False Prince is an extraordinary beginning in what is sure to be a brilliant trilogy. (Book two in The Ascendance Trilogy, The Runaway King, is supposed to be released on March 1st. Happy early birthday to me!) Sage’s voice is at once humorous, vulnerable, and sarcastic…everything a reader like me enjoys. This is a book that will appeal equally to male and female readers and should be marketed to everyone in upper elementary, middle, and high schools. Adult readers will also find something to love.

I heard a rumor recently that The False Prince has been optioned for the big screen, and an editor for Game of Thrones is adapting the novel. I just went to the author’s website, and, as luck would have it, the rumor is true! Oh, happy day. I think this is awesome, and if anyone can do justice to this story, I’m hoping that someone with a hand in Game of Thrones can live up to the task.

To learn more about The False Prince and other works by Jennifer A. Nielsen, visit the author’s website, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook. For your viewing pleasure, I’m also including here a short book trailer for The False Prince (produced by Scholastic) that I found on YouTube. It’s short but powerful. Enjoy!

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bargains and Betrayals

If you haven’t read the first two books in Shannon Delany’s 13 to Life series (13 to Life and Secrets and Shadows), read those before continuing with this post about book three, Bargains and Betrayals!

So, I finished reading Bargains and Betrayals by Shannon Delany last night, and it totally lived up to the previous two books. How can you go wrong with a book that has mental institutions, conspiracies, werewolves, and the Russian Mafia? (There was actually one part I could have lived without. One word. Zombies.)  This book is extremely dramatic, tense, and action-packed, and it kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.  (And how glad am I that the fourth book, Destiny and Deception, is already out?  I started reading it as soon as I finished Bargains and Betrayals.)

Bargains and Betrayals picks up right where Secrets and Shadows left off.  Jessie is being taken to a psychiatric facility, Pecan Place, “for her own good.”  Jessie is not happy about being away from her werewolf boyfriend Pietr, and she’s even more unhappy when she discovers that Pecan Place is not exactly what she thought.  After all, would a real mental institution have zombie guards and dead bodies in the basement?  Would a real psychiatrist murder a patient?  I’m thinking no.

While Jessie is dealing with a bunch of craziness at the mental institution, Pietr is struggling with how he can free the two people he loves the most–Jessie and his mother.  Time is running out for everyone, and Pietr makes a drastic decision that could help to save everyone but may just destroy him.  But Pietr will pay any price, sacrifice almost anything, to save the people he loves.  Will it be enough?

Jessie and Pietr aren’t the only ones having issues.  The entire Rusakova clan is facing an uncertain future.  Jessie’s friend Amy is learning to live and trust again after enduring an extremely abusive relationship.  People are dying all through the town of Junction, and an agency that may or may not have government ties seems to be responsible.  What can Jessie, Pietr, and their families and friends do to stop the madness that is invading their lives?  What bargains will they have to make (and with whom)?  Who will be betrayed so that lives can be saved?  Uncover the truth when you read Bargains and Betrayals by Shannon Delany!

I’ve enjoyed the entire 13 to Life series so far, but I must admit that Bargains and Betrayals is now my favorite (so far), despite the zombies.  I was not prepared for the twist at the end of the book, and I think it will be very interesting to see how that plays out in Destiny and Deception.  Luckily, I don’t have to wait to find out since book four is already out, and I started reading it last night.  I hope to finish it this weekend.

A word of caution:  Bargains and Betrayals deals with some mature themes (sex, violence, rape, etc.), so I would not recommend this book to readers under the age of 16.  Of course, maturity levels vary, so do with this what you will.

If you’d like more information about author Shannon Delany and the 13 to Life series, visit http://www.13tolifeseries.com/index.html.

The Throne of Fire

Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t read The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, do that before proceeding with this post.  You’ll be really confused if you don’t.  (Not to mention that the first book will be totally…well, spoiled for you.  That’s why we call this a spoiler alert.)  You’ve been warned!

I finished reading Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid a few months ago, and I had every intention of jumping right into book two in The Kane Chronicles, The Throne of Fire.  Life, however, has a way of interfering with one’s plans.  (Also, I had a bunch of other books I wanted to read, too.)  So, it’s now nearly three months later, and I’ve finally finished The Throne of Fire.  (I blame my stress-inducing, energy-sapping book fair last week for interfering with my reading speed on this book.)  The Throne of Fire is a good book with a lot of action and suspense, and events are very fast-paced.  If you enjoyed The Red Pyramid or any of Rick Riordan’s other books, you’ll definitely enjoy The Throne of Fire.

Carter and Sadie Kane can’t just have a normal life.  It’s not enough that they’re descended from pharoahs, or learning to harness their skills as magicians, or teaching others like them to do the same.  On top of all this, they’ve got to find a way to prevent Apophis, the god of chaos, from rising while trying to find the Book of Ra so that the sun god can rise and help them to defeat the forces of chaos threatening to take over the world.  Easy-peasy, right?  Um, not so much.  As usual, things don’t exactly go quite as well as the Kane family would like.

Carter and Sadie are encountering new and unexpected things in their latest adventures:  girl trouble (for Carter), boy trouble (for Sadie), two gods taking over the forms of their grandparents, an unbelievably ugly–but helpful–dwarf god, a bad Russian magician lovingly called Vlad the Inhaler (he has some respiratory issues), and a bunch of gods, goddesses, mummies, and magicians who seem to want the Kanes dead.  It wouldn’t be so bad if all of this wasn’t interfering with their search for Ra.  (Did I mention that they have absolutely no idea where Ra is or what condition he might be in when/if they find him?  No?  Well, now you know.)

Things aren’t looking good for Carter and Sadie and their fight to restore order to the world.  Chaos is breaking free, and it will take immense strength and a fair bit of sacrifice to prevent Apophis from destroying everything.  Are Carter and Sadie up to the task?  What–or who–will they have to give up this time to win the battle before them?  And will it be enough to strike a blow in the war that is coming?  The answers are never easy, but you can discover them yourself when you read The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan.

I have to say that I enjoyed this book just as much as I did The Red Pyramid.  (Riordan’s Percy Jackson series will always be my favorite, though.)  I look forward to reading more about Carter and Sadie Kane and their war against Apophis.  The third book in The Kane Chronicles is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2012.  No word yet on the title.

FYI, if you’re in or around South Carolina, Rick Riordan will be at Books-a-Million in Columbia on October 4th to promote his latest release, The Son of Neptune, the second book in his Heroes of Olympus series.  He’s set to arrive in carriage pulled by three black horses–just like Hades.  I don’t have many details on the event yet, but I plan to be there. 

If you’d like more information on Rick Riordan, his books, and his upcoming tour schedule, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx.  Have fun!

Mercy Creek

So, I just finished reading Mercy Creek by Matt Matthews–which is good since I’ll be meeting the author tomorrow night.  (He lives just a few miles away from me, so a bunch of librarians and teachers are joining him for dinner and a discussion of his book.)  Should be interesting…

Mercy Creek takes place in a sleepy Virginia town where things haven’t changed much in the last fifty years or so.  The same families live in the same houses, attend the same churches, and hold onto the same old grudges and secrets.  Sixteen-year-old Isaac has lived in this town his entire life.  His father is the local Presbyterian minister, his mother recently passed away, his girlfriend is drifting away from him, and his summer is filled with working at a hardware store instead of playing baseball with this friends.  The only bright spot that Isaac can see is the $5,000 reward being offered to whoever can find who’s responsible for a recent string of vandalism.  That money would go a long way to making Isaac a little happier.  But can he find out what’s going on…without risking his neck?

As Isaac begins digging for information, he comes across some unexpected secrets in his small town.  Prejudices that no one wants to admit to.  Atrocities that the whole town has turned a blind eye to for decades.  Isaac keeps searching for answers amid all of the secrecy, and he finds something he didn’t expect.  Himself.  His hunt for the truth forces him to grow into the person he wants to be instead of the one he’s been since his mother died.  He also finds a friend in someone who knows more about what’s going on in this town than he’s saying.  Can Isaac find the truth before someone gets hurt?  And can he learn to accept the changes around him, including those within his own life?  Read Mercy Creek by Matt Matthews to find out.

I’ll admit to you, dear readers, that it took me a while to get into this book.  It seemed to jump around a lot at the beginning.  (Of course, I was reading an uncorrected proof of the book, so those issues may have been fixed in editing.  I hope so.)  As I kept reading, however, the story grew more interesting, especially since Isaac’s town has a lot in common with the small town I grew up in (and still live in).  Prejudices run deep, and they’re often passed on to the younger generations.  It’s nice to read a book that exposes those prejudices for what they are–complete and total ignorance–while not being too preachy (which is odd since the author of this book is actually a preacher).

I look forward to meeting Matt Matthews, author of Mercy Creek, tomorrow night.  I’ll post a recap of that meeting in the comments, so stay tuned!

Published in: on May 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm  Comments (2)  
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Dirty Little Secrets

It is with a sense of relief that I have finished my latest read, Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu.  First of all, while I’ve been reading, I’ve had the song Dirty Little Secret by the All-American Rejects stuck in my head.  While I like the song, I don’t want to hear it on a seemingly endless loop.  Also, the book’s subject matter, hoarding, has made me want to deep clean my house.  I can’t even watch the A&E show, Hoarders, because I can’t seem to quell the urge to disinfect things after seeing how these people live.  Anyhoo…after I finish this post, I plan to clean a little, listen to some music to replace the song repeating in my head, and move on to my next book.

In Dirty Little Secrets, Lucy is hiding the dirtiest of secrets.  Her mother is a compulsive hoarder, and the piles of garbage have overrun their home.  Her siblings have done their time in the house, and her father has a new family, so it’s just Lucy, her mother, and piles and piles of junk.  Lucy can’t have friends over because she can’t risk the fallout from people discovering how she lives.  The garbage in her house has spilled into her life, and Lucy is simply counting the days until she graduates and can finally leave.

One morning, Lucy makes a gruesome discovery.  Her mother is dead.  Lucy can already see what will happen if she allows paramedics to see how her mother lived and died.  The media will be disgusted yet fascinated by the girl whose mother died in a house full of garbage.  Lucy will lose her new friends when they discover how she’s been living.  All of her carefully guarded secrets will become fodder for the public.  Lucy knows she must take drastic actions to keep her family’s secrets, but what can she do?  How can she get rid of years of accumulated filth and junk?  How can she possibly let people see the wreck her mother allowed their lives to become?  Is there anyone she can turn to?  Read Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu to see how far one girl will go to protect her mother’s dirtiest secret.

While this book was quite the downer, I think it highlighted an issue that many children face.  Hoarding is a serious problem, and the children of hoarders are victims of their parents’ disorders.  To learn more about Dirty Little Secrets, C.J. Omololu, and to find information on compulsive hoarding, visit http://cjomololu.com/.

Now, I must clean!

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