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Viewing Blog: Bookshelves of Doom, dated 7/8/2012
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I've been noticing that alchemy has been popping up in a lot of YA titles lately. The following is not, of course, meant to be remotely exhaustive—these are just the ones that came to mind:
Bloodlines & The Golden Lily, by Richelle Mead: Our heroine is Sydney Sage, alchemist (it also turns out that she has magical powers)! In this series, alchemists are, like, a secret society that polices vampires and keeps them hidden from the human race. Even though they hate them. Or... something like that. It makes more sense in the books, I promise. It's a spin-off of the Vampire Academy books—Sydney first appeared in Blood Promise.
The Alchemy of Forever, by Avery Williams: In this one, the local alchemist's son made our heroine immortal—well, kind of—way back in 1349. Since then, in order to, you know, keep living, she's forced to steal bodies whenever the one she's currently inhabiting starts to break down... which is every decade or so. Now, though, she's had enough with the killing and the abusive alchemist's son. So she plans to escape and commit suicide... but not everything goes as planned.
The Other Countess, by Eve Edwards: Our heroine's father is an alchemist! Who spent all of her true love's family's money! So that's a problem.
This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1, by Kenneth Oppel: On his way over to the Dark Side, Anakin Skywalker Victor Frankenstein discovers a secret Dark Library full of dangerous alchemical texts. Later, he and his crew seek out the help of alchemist Julius Polidori in their attempt to create the Elixir of Life. It... doesn't go well.
The Iron Witch & The Wood Queen, by Karen Mahoney: Like Sydney in Bloodlines, our heroine Donna Underwood was born into a secret society of alchemists. There's a war going on between the fey and the alchemists, and poor old Donna is stuck right in the middle of it... while she attempts to navigate high school and all that jazz. I haven't read the second one yet. I should probably get on that.
Anyway, those are the titles I came up with. Any suggestions?
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Titles I've written about:
The Other Countess (2010):
It's got loads of witty banter and makes for lots of swooning. It's got two—count 'em!—TWO really likable female leads and tons of period detail. The storyline is, yeah, ultimately predictable, but in agood way, and it's got lots of unpredictable stops along the way.
The Springsweet, by Saundra Mitchell:
If it was the slow build of The Vespertine’s pacing that got you down, know this: in The Springsweet, within less than 30 pages, 17-year-old Baltimorean Zora Stewart has already deliberately ruined herself (in the eyes of genteel society), headed off to the Oklahoma frontier to live with her aunt and been set upon by masked highwaymen.
Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls, by Mary Downing Hahn
Liberator, by Richard Harland
The Last Echo: A Body Finder Novel, by Kimberly Derting
The Last Apprentice: Grimalkin the Witch Assassin (Book 9), by Joseph Delaney and Patrick Arrasmith
Kill Switch, by Chris Lynch
Gone, Gone, Gone, by Hannah Moskowitz
Glimmer, by Phoebe Kitanidis
172 Hours on the Moon, by Johan Harstad
The Chaos, by Nalo Hopkinson
The Wicked and the Just, by Jillian Anderson Coats
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Titles I've written about:
Days of Little Texas (2009):
And all of that doesn't touch on the atmospheric spooky stuff, which is, you know, atmospheric and spooky. Or on Roland Earl's characterization, which is fascinating, sympathetic, and believable, and his voice, which is compelling and rhythmic and, to this Mainer's ears, sounded believably Southern. More than anything else, though, it's his sincerity that makes the book.
When Ronald Earl Pettway was five (or six, he's not rightly sure) years old, his father was arrested on a drug charge. A short time later, his mother died in a meth lab explosion.
He was taken in by his aunt, Miss Wanda Joy King.
When he was ten years old, in San Angelo, Texas, he performed his first miracle of healing at the World-Famous Lake Nasworthy Lamblast and Chili Cook-off. Now sixteen, he's still known as Little Texas, still filling tents across the country, spreading the gospel with Miss Wanda Joy, Sugar Tom, and Certain Certain.
But he's starting to have doubts. Is this what he's going to do for the rest of his life? Is it even what he wants to do for the rest of his life?
And then he heals a girl in a blue dress, a girl who's about his own age, a girl named Lucy. Or at least, he thinks he does.
Until she starts appearing to him, again and again, in place after place. Is she trying to find him to thank him for healing her? Is she really even there? Is she even still alive? Did he really heal her?
Holy cow, there's a lot to this book. So much that I broke my usual Don't Mention Anything Past Page Fifty In The Synopsis rule, and still didn't touch on some of the themes and storylines. In addition to the obvious—religion and ghost story—the book also explores Ronald Earl's sexual awakening, celebrity/theatre, forgiveness and redemption, and the nature of evil. It's a book that will bear a few read-throughs, too—as I've been flipping through to check the passages I marked, I've been wondering about aspects of the story that didn't occur to me the first time through. For instance? Did Ronald Earl really, truly heal Certain Certain that time in Texas? Or was it all a show cooked up by Certain Certain and Wanda Joy, a way to make Roland Earl a True Believer, and thus, a better showman?
I really, truly don't know.
Anyway. So we've got Roland Earl's crisis of faith*—not so much a question of whether or not he believes in God, but a question of whether or not he believes in himself as a conduit to God, and whether or not he believes that this is the life he wants to lead. More and more, he's starting to doubt his aunt's motives. She dresses him in too-large clothes to make him look younger, is frank about their dependence on his preaching for their income, and sometimes seems more concerned with the theatre aspect of the revivals than the preaching:
"That's all I have to say**. Except this: you are not only a professional, Little Texas, you are also a celebrity. More than a celebrity. You are a living representative of the One True God. With that sta
When Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, Countess of San Jaime, was twelve years old, she and her alchemist father were turned out of William Lacey's lands. "Turned away" is putting it mildly—as Ellie's father was to blame for the Lacey's lost family fortune, she and her father were lucky that the new Earl of Dorset only threw them out, rather than setting his dogs on them.
Four years later, Will is eighteen and headed to Queen Elizabeth's court in the hopes of snagging a rich bride in seek of a title. Someone like Lady Jane Perceval, whose family has plenty of money and would like the social standing to go along with it.
Little does Will know, Ellie and her father are at the Queen's court as well, but now, of course, Ellie's all grown up. When they reconnect, Will is floored by the lovely, witty, scholarly countess... until he finds out who her father is. Oddly, though, even after that discovery, he can't get Ellie out of his mind. Meanwhile, though, Lady Jane's dirtbag of a brother also has his eye on Ellie...
I loved this one. Utter bliss.
It's got loads of witty banter and makes for lots of swooning. It's got two—count 'em!—TWO really likable female leads and tons of period detail. The storyline is, yeah, ultimately predictable, but in a good way, and it's got lots of unpredictable stops along the way. There are cameos by Sir Walter Raleigh (he's a total lech and wears a massive codpiece) and Queen Elizabeth (she's Queen Elizabeth-y).
The Lacey family is adorable and rambunctious and lovable, and Ellie both loves and wants to strangle her absent-minded, selfish, obsessed father. When Will is a jerk, he owns up to it, and Ellie's never one to just stand around and wait to be rescued. (That said, she does get rescued a few times despite herself.)
Politics and religion and other aspects of the era all factor in to the storyline, creating a rich world for the adorbs characters to swan around in.
AND IT WORKS AS A STAND-ALONE!! (BUT, AT THE SAME TIME, IT'S NOT ALL OVER, BECAUSE THERE'S ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT LADY JANE!!)
Holy cow, it doesn't get much better than this. I'm so very, very happy, and I can't wait to sit down with The Queen's Lady.