Matilda Bone – Karen Cushman

f3cf55b3b4f2c1959707a486777434f414f4141Matilda has been brought up by the manor priest since her father, the lord’s clerk, died. But he’s been called to London, and she’s being left to stay with Peg, the bonesetter. It’s a completely different life than Matilda’s used to, and it takes some getting used to, but she learns to like the new world she’s been thrown into.

I really like Cushman’s historical stories- she’ll focus on the story of a young person, and layer in a lot of other interesting history around them. This book gives you an interesting overview of medieval medicine, as well as the contrast between the church and lay people. It’s a charming story – I read it in one night.

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The Queen of Blood – Sarah Beth Durst

1a659cb84d3ea525973492b6e41434f414f4141Daleina discovers her ability to control spirits when they come after her village. Unfortunately, she’s only able to save her family, but that opening leads her to pursue the training that may eventually make her the Queen.

This is an interesting world. For some reason, there are spirits, and all they want is the destruction of people. But women have power over them, some more than others. With training, they will become Heirs, and when the Queen dies, the spirits themselves pick the new queen from the Heirs, even as the Heirs compel them to choose. Daleina is not the strongest candidate, but she has a special affinity for the spirits that can make her very effective at controlling them in certain situations. So her training is never entirely certain – can she make a good Heir?

I will say, what happened at the end of this book was very much obvious from what led up to it, but the way things went down is not at all what I was expecting. It turned this book into a lot more of a set up of the story than I had expected, and I’m definitely curious to see what’s coming next.

Tortall and Other Lands – Tamora Pierce

0375866337-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_I am so behind with certain authors – Tamora Pierce being high on that list. This book was published in 2011, and has a collections of stories spanning all of Pierce’s various series, as well as one that’s in the real world.

I definitely liked some stories better than others, but I will say, I enjoyed the really wide diversity of stories – even if I didn’t care for some as much, this represented a really interesting selection of differing viewpoints.

One of my favorites was “Testing”, which is the real world story I mentioned above, and is based on Pierce’s experiences being the housemother in a group home for girls. That story just had a lot of heart that I really enjoyed.

Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo

c602425589805405967592f6767434f414f4141I enjoyed this book. It’s set in a sort of alternate Russia, where the land has been split by the Shadow Fold, or Unsea – a place of darkness, inhabited by monsters.   The Grisha can work magic, and use their various abilities to try and keep the shadows at bay.

Alina is an orphan. She and her friend Mal, another orphan – they’ve grown up together – have joined the army. On their first crossing of the fold, they’re attacked, and when Mal is in danger, Alina manages to summon the sun to chase the monsters away. The Grisha immediately whisk her away, and their leader, the Darkling, takes personal charge of her education, because she may be able to destroy the Shadow Fold.

This book pretty quickly turned away from where it seemed to be heading- I’ll be very interested to see where the story goes from here – it’s a great set up to the story.

Cybele’s Secret – Juliet Marillier

0553494864-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_This book take place after Wildwood Dancing, focusing on Paula, one of the younger sisters from the previous book. Paula’s the family scholar, and after her father’s assistant falls ill, he asks her to come with him to Istanbul, where he’s been asked to find an artifact called Cybele’s Gift, for a wealthy client.

Istanbul is absolutely fascinating – Paula quickly meets an Portuguese sea capitain, a Greek woman who supports other women in scholarship, and a young Bulgarian man who they hire as her bodyguard. There’s a great deal of intrigue around Cybele’s Gift, and Paula and her father find themselves in real danger.

I really enjoyed this story – there’s a real flavor or Istanbul under the Ottomans that’s so much fun to see through Paula’s eyes. There’s no direct fairy tale link like there was in Wildwood Dancing, but the fairy realm is still there, and the link to the mythology of the goddess Cybele was well done. Like the other book, it’s technically a teen book, but is really just a good tale anyone could enjoy.

Frogkisser! – Garth Nix

4b528895550c633596e58706e77434f414f4141This book skews to the younger side of the author’s work, more young reader than young adult. Princess Anya and her sister Morven are unlucky enough to have two step parents – first their mother died, introducing their step mother, and then, when their father died, she remarried their step-step father. Who is an evil sorcerer, and absolutely wants to take over their kingdom.

When he tries to send Anya off to a school so far away that it’s obvious he’s planning to have her gotten rid of on the journey there, she instead escapes, and goes on a quest to figure out a way to get rid of him.

This is pretty standard fairy tale stuff, except that Anya is the one rescuing princes, and herself and her kingdom along the way. It’s definitely cute, and a nice quick read.

Gateway to Fourline – Pam Brondos

b00wl6qgig-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_Natalie’s in college, struggling to make ends meet, and make her tuition payments, while also sending money home to help her family. When she’s offered a job by one of the theater professors, it seems like a dream come true – a steady job that can pay her tuition.

It turns out that the professor is one of a band of protectors of the king in another dimension that somehow found their way into our world. The king is in danger, and had to flee. They can all be tracked, so they’ve been looking for someone that can take care of themselves to make contact with their supporters in their homeworld, and let them know the king is still alive.

This is pretty much your standard young person gets thrust into a pretty tough situation and grows into it admirably kind of story. It’s not bad, but I’ve definitely read better. And it ends on a really annoying cliffhanger.