Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Redd Becker Book Review

Maggie Stiefvater weaves the supernatural, with mystery and adventure among a group of diverse and sometimes gifted teens. Blue Lily, Lily Blue explores the nature of teen friendship, change and regret. Stiefvater knows teens and depicts them as they are and how they want to be. Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3) Characters with complex personalities, unique dreams, motivations and blinding faults strive toward their goals.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue has a caste of characters with multiple motivations and plot lines to track. That made it hard for me to engage at first. Blue Lily, Lily Blue comes as book three in the Raven King Series. If I’d read the series it would be easier. The plot lines entangled me as more threadsof the story became apparent but went no where. By mid book I was in the rhythm, however.

The group of high school students, some with supernatural powers, lead a duo life away from school. Most have magical powers. They use their power to attempt to bring back a dead king, who they believe will grant them the wish of bringing their friend, Noah, back to life. If they waken the wrong person, evil will be released on the world. There are adventures galore with ghosts, visions, killers and magic .

Subplots Aplenty in Blue Lily, Lily Blue

The story doesn’t lack for subplots. Besides finding the king, Lily’s quest to find her mother (whose life is in question, because she may be off to find the king herself) takes Lily to another dimension. Her friends, the Raven boys, confront each other at every turn. Each has their motives. Greenmantle and Piper throw a kink in the works. The gangsters undermine the teens quest to find the king at every turn. The story explores the idea of energy ley lines around Earth where magic is strong and universes intersect.

Friendships depicted among this odd group of teens taps into our feelings of isolation, loneliness and the misfit in all of us. 

My Rating four-stars

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterBlue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Published by Scholastic Press on October 21st 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 389
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The third installment in the mesmerizing series from the irrepressible, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.
There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.
Friends can betray.Mothers can disappear.Visions can mislead.Certainties can unravel.

Black Mirror by Nancy Werlin

Redd Becker Book Review

Nancy Werlin has the skill to create characters who cBlack Mirror by Nancy Werlinarry readers into the story. Then she uses the mystery as a vehicle for readers to learn about Frances’ world. A great combination.

In essence Black Mirror is a coming-of-age mystery.  Frances’ brother kills himself and she is left to decipher why. In the process she uncovers secrets about a charity at her school and learns that even those she thought she knew best have secrets.

Written in first person we get inside of Frances’ head along with her many misinterpretation of people and events. Characters are developed through Frances’ eyes, but Frances is wrong more often than not. She’s hard on herself, can’t look in the mirror and doesn’t trust people enough to make friends, but that doesn’t stop her from crushing on an older guy. She finally partners with a mentally impaired janitor and tries to reach out to a teacher for help, but who can she trust when the evidence mounts. A surprise ending leaves Frances with her biggest challenge yet, forgiveness.

Nancy Werlin win the Edgar Award

The Mystery Writers of America presents the Edgar Award every year for mystery in various categories. Nancy Werlin won it in 1999 for The Killer’s Cousin., her young adult novel. John Green won the award in 19 for Paper Towns. Wikipedia has a list of additional winners worthy of note.

My Rating four-stars

Black Mirror by Nancy WerlinBlack Mirror by Nancy Werlin
Published by Puffin Books on April 14th 2003
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery
Pages: 249
Source: Goodreads
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A compelling thriller from a National Book Award Finalist author
Frances Leventhal refuses to look in the mirror; she can't bear to face her reflection. She has hidden from herself and everyone around her for such a long time, and now that her brother Daniel has committed suicide, she can't help thinking that it's somehow her fault. If she hadn't been so caught up in her own pain, maybe she would have noticed her brother's. It's time to stop hiding—to reach out to Daniel's friends at their private school. Daniel had been deeply involved in Unity Service, the charitable group on campus, and Frances is determined to join the group and to make amends.But something's not quite right about Unity, and soon Frances finds herself in the middle of a puzzle too ominous to ignore. Exactly what are the Unity members trying so hard to hide? And why does no one else on campus, adult or teen, seem suspicious of them? This time Frances won't scurry away to hide. The memory of her brother is at stake.

Ink and Bone by Rachael Caine, where the great library rules politics

Redd Becker Book Reviews

Rachel Caine creates an alternative universe where scholars from Alexandria use knowledge to control the world. Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1) by Rachel CaineLibrary’s power trumps politics. What would happen if library’s were the political power broker? The story effectively turns the reader’s view of libraries on its head. 

Caine portrays diverse teenagers who come together to address challenges. Clues sprinkled throughout action scene carefully lay out her alternate history.

Each year an elite group of youth are tested and trained to join the ranks of the library. Training is not just a test of the scholarly, alliances are made, lives destroyed. Jess comes from a family of black market book sellers who expect him to use his role in the library to their advantage, but when Jess finds out how the library is ruthless and uses magic to suppress the populous. Who are his friends and foes on his quest to save himself and his friends. Caine leaves us hanging. 

Rachel Caine has more to explore

I read the novel a second time a few months after the first and liked it even better. During my initial read, the ephemera between chapters were interesting, but the second time those small bits of information added even more. I reread this novel with equal enjoyment to my first read and look forward to the sequel.

Due to Rachel Caine‘s prolific writing she has several series to enjoy. Her website covers it all.

For those interested in writing: The “Ephemera” between many of the chapters provided a view from the perspective of the library’s elite. It’s an effective technique to clue readers into things characters in the story don’t have access to and adds another dimension to the plot.

five-stars Ink and Bone by Rachael Caine, where the great library rules politicsInk and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Published by NAL on April 5th 2016
Genres: Alternate History, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 374
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In an exhilarating new series, "New York Times" bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time. Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden. Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family. Jess has been sent to be his family s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library s service. When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe knowledge is more valuable than any human life and soon both heretics and books will burn."

The Palace of Glass by Django Wexler

Redd Becker Book Review

The Palace of Glass by Django Wexler begins with a Alice in the throws of it. As an apprentice who has the power to ‘read’ herself by Django Wexlerinto books, she has access to power that affect her world. When she discovers her master’s role in her father’s death she seeks revenge. In seeking revenge, Alice releases evils into her world that she isn’t prepared to fight, but must.

Alice’s helper is a cat who takes care of the library but who may have ulterior motives of his own. Alice meets fire and ice people who don’t trust the motives and powers of readers like her.

Alice’s ability to use books as tools to bring characters to life will enchant Middle Grade Readers. She conjures a dinosaur so she can use the dinosaur’s tough skin to protect her in battle and a swarm of bees that help her escape danger. Fun ideas.

My Rating four-stars

The Palace of Glass by Django WexlerThe Palace of Glass (The Forbidden Library #3) by Django Wexler
Series: The Forbidden Library #3
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on April 12th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure
Pages: 368
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For Alice, danger threatens from inside the library as well as out. Having figured out the role her master and uncle, Geryon, played in her father's disappearance, Alice turns to Ending—the mysterious, magical giant feline and guardian of Geryon's library—for a spell to incapacitate Geryon. But, like all cats, Ending is adept at keeping secrets and Alice doesn't know the whole story. Once she traps Geryon with Ending's spell, there's no one to stop the other Readers from sending their apprentices to pillage Geryon's library. As Alice prepares to face an impending attack from the combined might of the Readers, she gathers what forces she can—the apprentices she once thought might be her friends, the magical creatures imprisoned in Geryon's library—not knowing who, if anyone, she can trust.

Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon

Redd Becker Book Review

Donna Leon develops Commissario Brunetti’s character as much as the mysteries he solves. Drawing Conclusions is a solid mystery novel about tDrawing Conclusions by Donna Leonhe death by heart attack of an elderly widow. Leon carefully weaves Burnetti’s personal grief into the subplot. The grief of his mother’s death drives everything he does.

Donna Leon delightfully integrates the environs of Venice into every inquiry, while not overpowering the empathetic investigator. In addition, her Commissario Brunetti series took me on a mini-vacation to Italy. An added bonus in a good read.

For those interested in writing: Leon can draw out an exchange of dialogue with finesse. I enjoy slowing down with her as she adds breaks between dialogue sequences. Each break heightens character personalities as much as the exchange of words do.

My Rating four-stars

Drawing Conclusions by Donna LeonDrawing Conclusions by Donna Leon
Series: Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries
Published by Penguin Books on March 27th 2012
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 288
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Donna Leon's latest New York Times bestseller "is one of her best" (Booklist, starred review) Twenty years ago Venetian Commissario Guido Brunetti and his creator, Donna Leon, first introduced readers to the delights-and dangers-of Venice. Now they have millions of devoted fans. In Drawing Conclusions, a young woman arrives home and senses that all is not right in the apartment below. When she investigates, she finds her neighbor lying lifeless on the floor. The autopsy shows that the widow's death was due to a heart attack, but Brunetti is convinced that things are not as straightforward as they seem. With her signature combination of humanity, nuanced detail, and psychological insight, Leon's twentieth Brunetti mystery reaffirms her place in the pantheon of crime fiction.

The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

Redd Becker Book Review

The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams is a classic for good reason. Williams story is for those who enjoy being taken to another time and place. He describes each scene in scrumptioThe Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williamsus detail. Layer upon layer of minutiae of castles, characters, country and the backstory of exotic species come to life. 

Tad William’s receives accolades for his sci-fi novels for good reason. Written in third person omniscient, William’s writing style draws you into his world. The story centers around a kitchen boy, Simon, who is whisked into an adventure to save his kingdom. Simon’s curiosity draws him into the underbelly of castle politics. Tales of dragons, magic, a dwarf helper, giants and Sithi converge while Simon negotiates immenent danger. His goodness shines, but I cherished his weaknesses and naivete more. His friend Binabik is no less fun.

Williams describes everything in more detail than I prefer reading, but that didn’t stop my drive to finish the tome and find out what happened to Simon in his mythical world. It was a fun, compelling, fantasy/sci-fi tale.

My Rating five-stars 


The Dragonbone Chair by Tad WilliamsThe Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, #1) by Tad Williams
Published by Orbit on January 1st 1970
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 912
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The first book in the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy blends the machinations of a king gone mad with the politics of empire in a world of ancient days and the joys and terrors of magic.

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

Redd Becker Book Reviews

An independent minded princess agrees to marry whoever kills the beast that is killing villagers in her father’s kingThe Great Hunt (Eurona Duology, #1) by Wendy Higginsdom in The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins. Hunters from near and far come to kill the beast. 

The most interesting part of the story for me was when the hunters appeared. Each hunter had their own backstory and wanted to kill the beast or marry the princess for different reasons. The dynamic between the hunters, their motives and relationships pushed the story forward.

Unfortunately, the first sixty-four pages entrenches the reader in a ‘princess’ story that almost caused me to stop reading. Granted, that’s because of my own prejudices. I’m not too interested in prince and princesses thwarting whatever obstacles to come into their ‘rightful’ power.

Princess Aerity’s story could  easily be the subplot, although I understand there is a never ending demand for princess stories and for those who favor them, this could be a wonderful read.

My Rating three-stars

The Great Hunt by Wendy HigginsThe Great Hunt (Eurona Duology, #1) by Wendy Higgins
Published by HarperTeen on March 8th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 416
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“Aerity…” Her father paused as if the words he was forming pained him. “I must ask you to sacrifice the promise of love for the sake of our kingdom.”
She could only stare back, frozen.

When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.
Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger…until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment.
Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface.
Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.