Friday, September 27, 2013

The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer (Book 4 Life as We Knew It series)

The Shade of the Moon (The Last Survivors, #4)The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first three books in this series. Originally, I thought the third book would be the last in the series. The ending of the third book was open, but I was satisfied with the way things ended. I was surprised to learn the fourth book had come out. The book jacket states this is the "riveting conclusion" to the series. I hope it is the end . . . don't know how much more I could take - as far as the horrific things the characters must live through.
In this book, Jon (Miranda's younger brother) is the main character. Time has passed and he is now an older teenager. The world and circumstances have made him into a pretty horrible person. What I love about this book is the way he grows as a character. He truly grows and changes dramatically throughout the book and not because things get any better or easier - they definitely don't. He learns through circumstances and relationships with others that "society" (as it has become) doesn't have to be right. The new world system that's been set up can be "bucked".
This was definitely the most difficult book in the series for me in terms of horrific crimes against people. It's tough to read, very sad, but it extends the stories of many of the characters.
Excellent book, but I do hope this is really the end of this series.

Highly recommended for young adult readers and readers who like apocalyptic fiction.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Andy Smithson Blast of the Dragon's Fury by L. R. W. Lee

Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon's Fury (Book One)Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon's Fury by L.R.W. Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book caught my attention immediately as it begins with the death (and move into afterlife) of an obviously important character! Imogenia is dead. The afterlife seems more like a government agency than an eternal paradise or punishment. After being joined in the afterlife by her parents, Imogenia applies for, and is granted, permission to exact revenge on her murderer.

Fast forward 500 years and meet Andy Smithson. He seems like a fairly normal kid in today’s society. He gets in trouble at school, has parents too busy to be supportive at home, and an annoying sister to deal with.

Andy’s life gets quite literally flipped when he is magically transported to the Land of Oomaldee. He quickly gains things he’s never really had before: friendship, a stable, loving “home” life, and recognition for doing positive things. Of course there are difficulties too, like the king believes Andy has come to help break a curse the kingdom has been under for 500 years. Andy experiences frightful and fantastic adventures with dragons, strange bird-people, and talking statues. In the end he realizes Oomaldee is where he belongs, but will he be able to stay? Will he be able to help break the curse or will Imogenia interfere and prevent him from helping?

This is definitely geared toward upper elementary/early middle school-aged readers, but the story can be appreciated by adults as well. I think kids will relate to the main character in his modern life and they’ll love the fantasy he is thrown into. Kids will like the occasional “farting” references that, as an adult, I didn’t care for as much. As an adult, I loved the Prologue and then had to read in a bit to really get into the rest of the story. By the end, I was hooked and I can’t wait to read the next installment!

There is an inner voice/conscience “character” that I thought seemed a little out of place within the story as it showed up briefly twice, but was not an integral part throughout the book. I’m interested to see what the author does with that in the future.

Overall, Blast of the Dragon’s Fury is a great book. I highly recommend it for upper elementary and middle school-aged readers who enjoy fantasy.

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