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by Marissa Meyer

Review by Emily T.
5 out of 5 Stars

You know you have found an exceptional book when after turning the last page, and after squealing from excitement, you realize that you are very thirsty. What’s more, but you are also extremely hungry, and tired, and you are actually in pain from not moving your neck for a significant amount of time… Such was the case with Cinder by Marissa Meyer. It’s a good thing breathing is second nature, otherwise I’d be dead.

Let me tell you about Cinder by Marissa Meyer. It’s a Cinderella story, except she’s a Cyborg!

I know, I’ve ascended a new level of nerd. Even my husband was weirded out. (The man who taught me everything I know about Marvel comics, and couldn’t go a day without telling me about how excited he was about Avengers. He gave me the weirdest look.)

Nerdy: yes, But I absolutely loved it! Cinder is well written, with a strong cast of like-able characters. The environment was rich and multi-layered: It was distinct and creative, but it had enough familiar features to keep the reader from becoming uncomfortable. Also, while there was a touch of obvious foreshadowing, there were some surprising twists in the plot. Here’s the Blurb and the author’s blog. Let me know what you think.

Sixteen-year-old Cinder is considered a technological mistake by most of society and a burden by her stepmother. Being cyborg does have its benefits, though: Cinder’s brain interface has given her an uncanny ability to fix thing (robots, hovers, her own malfunctioning parts), making her the best mechanic in New Beijing. This reputation brings Prince Kai himself to her weekly market booth, needing her to repair a broken android before the annual ball. He jokingly calls it “a matter of national security,” but Cinder suspects it’s more serious than he’s letting on.
Although eager to impress the prince, Cinder’s intentions are derailed when her younger stepsister, and only human friend, is infected with the fatal plague that’s been devastating Earth for a decade. Blaming Cinder for her daughter’s illness, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers her body for plague research, an “honor” that no one has survived.
But it doesn’t take long for the scientists to discover something unusual about their new guinea pig. Something others would kill for.

Heir Apparent
by Vivian Vande Velde

Review by Emily T.
4 out of 5 Stars

Experience the new virtual reality! Rasmussen Gaming Corporation offers a new One of a Kind gaming experience. Don’t just play the game, be in the game. State of the Art technology makes you feel as though you are experiencing the game first hand–Smell, Taste, Touch, Feel the Adventure!

Giannine’s life is anything but spectacular. So when her absent father gifts her a voucher for a Total Immersion Virtual Reality game, Giannine chooses ‘Heir Apparent’ and plunges into a medieval adventure of magic and intrigue. But when the gaming equipment is damaged by political protesters the game becomes more than just virtual. It becomes deadly.

“Heir Apparent” by Vivian Vande Velde is a novel about choices, and how this ‘choose your own adventure’ story creates a real-life consequences. This easy-to-read novel is fast paced and exciting. Velde’s tale reminded me of one of my library staples, ”Crusader” by Edward Bloor. “Heir Apparent” shares several feature with “Crusader” that caused me to read it again and again. Both share a strong female character who grows and learns from the choices she makes, as well as an unpredictable, lively plot. As well, I love that Velde’s choice of audience ensures her content be clean and wholesome. Here’s GoodRead’s tagline:

In Heir Apparent there are as many ways to win as there are to get killed.
Giannine can testify to how many ways there are to die–it’s about all she’s been able to do since she started playing. Now all she has to do is get the magic ring, find the stolen treasure, answer the dwarf’s dumb riddles, come up with a poem for the head-chopping statue, cope with the army of ghosts, outmaneuver her half brothers, and defeat the man-eating dragon.
If she can do all of that, why, she just might save her own life

The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’s master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’s stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

Ranger’s Apprentice
by John Flanagan

Will hopes to become a knight; instead, he winds up as a Ranger’s apprentice, joining the secretive corps that uses stealth, woodcraft, and courage to protect the kingdom. His aptitude and bravery gradually earn the respect of his gruff but good-hearted master. When the kingdom is attacked by evil magic forces, Will helps track down and defeat a couple of particularly nasty beasts. This closing episode sets the stage for a good-versus-evil war that will likely be at the heart of future volumes. In this opener, though, most of the story focuses on the learning process that Will goes through as an apprentice. Descriptions of Ranger craft are fascinating. Exciting confrontations with bullies and wild boars help to establish the boy’s emerging character. Side stories involving a rival Battleschool apprentice and the identity of Will’s father are woven in smoothly. The author occasionally spells things out more than is needed when actions demonstrate them clearly enough. However, the well-paced plot moves effortlessly toward the climax, letting readers get to know the world and the characters gradually as excitement builds. The public adoration Will gains at the end seems slightly overdone given the established distrust people feel for Rangers, but it’s still a pleasing finish and should leave readers eager to share the future adventures of the Ranger’s apprentice.

The Looking Glass Wars
by Frank Beddor

Frank Beddor’s clever novel puts Lewis Carroll’s heroine—along with her loony, puzzle-riddled world—into a new and wholly satisfying frame. In this version, most of Alyss Heart’s family and friends are ruthlessly killed by her evil Aunt Redd. Alyss escapes through the Pool of Tears, which is actually a portal between worlds, and winds up in Victorian England and is renamed Alice. At first, the child tries to tell ordinary humans about her world and the power imagination actually effects in Wonderlandia, but they gently chide her for telling stories. She believes that she’s found a sympathetic ear in a young Oxford don who is a friend of her adopted family, but he turns her story into the travesty we all know as “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Meanwhile, Hatter Madigan, a member of Wonderlandia’s Millinery, who also escaped through the Pool, searches for Alyss across continents and time, until he finds her more than a dozen years later. Back home in Wonderlandia, the few who have escaped evil Redd’s soldiers plot to retake the land. Gerard Doyle reads with asperity and speaks the copious puns without any added slyness. Fans of Carroll’s stories will flock to this and those who have managed to miss that less violent classic can get to it while waiting for the next volume in this exciting and humorous trilogy.

by Stephenie Meyer

When Bella Swan moves from sunny Phoenix to Forks, Washington, a damp and dreary town known for the most rainfall in the United States, to live with her dad, she isn’t expecting to like it. But the level of hostility displayed by her standoffish high school biology lab partner, Edward Cullen, surprises her. After several strange interactions, his preternatural beauty, strength, and speed have her intrigued. Edward is just as fascinated with Bella, and their attraction to one another grows. As Bella discovers more about Edwards nature and his family, she is thrown headlong into a dangerous adventure that has her making a desperate sacrifice to save her one true love.