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Books 41-43: The Demon King, Run for Your Life, & Crispin: The Cross of Lead

Here are books forty-one to forty-three from my Book List 2009. The links lead to more detailed reviews in my journal.

41. Title: The Demon King
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Pages: 506
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Captivating, fascinating realm; dangerous adventures.
Personal Rating: «««« out of five.

I greatly enjoyed Cinda Williams Chima's Heirs trilogy, so I was really looking forward to reading this first book in her newest trilogy. Once again Chima manages to craft a fascinating fantasy realm. This story revolves around the politics of running the Queendom of the Fells and the delicate balance of power between royals, wizards, and warriors.

One thousand years ago during the time of the Demon King, a new order was created to keep the peace and balance the power to prevent war. As the centuries have passed, people have forgotten why these strictures were put into place and there are those who are ruthless enough to want more power for themselves. There is much discontent within the queendom and they are in danger of going to war with neighboring realms.

This story focuses on Han, a reformed thief who has mysterious pair of unremovable silver cuffs on wrists and Raisa, the rebelious princess heir of the Fells. After a confrontation with three wizards, Han comes to possess an amulet of great power. His life is now in danger because they will stop at nothing to get it back. Raisa is viewed as the pretty stepping stone to the power, but her enemies underestimate her abilities.

This was an amazing start to the trilogy. The story is complex with many unexpected twists and turns. I am looking forward reading the second book. Highly recommended if you like YA fantasy.

42. Title: Run for Your Life
Author: James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Pages: 373
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Complex villain; breakneck pace.
Personal Rating: «««¾ out of five.

This is the second book in the series. I didn't read the first, but aside from not having a little more background information, this did not affect my enjoyment of the story. I'm a fan of Patterson's Alex Cross series, and this joint effort with another author is very typical of Patterson's style.

The story races along, effortlessly switching POVs from the Teacher (villain) to Michael the police officer (main character) to other supporting characters. The Teacher is furious and wants to teach those who offend a lesson. The murders begin with high-profile professionals and the Teacher marches up the food chain. As the body count mounts, Michael is charged with solving the crimes.

Despite the sparse details, the story feels complete and satisfying. I was able to guess who the villain was early on, but that did not diminish my enjoyment. It was interesting to see why the Teacher felt compelled to act and put the pieces together for the complete picture. Highly recommended to Patterson fans.

43. Title: Crispin: The Cross of Lead
Author: Avi
Pages: 262
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Simply told, but great story.
Personal Rating: «««¾ out of five.

This Newbery award winning story takes place in England in the year 1377. Asta, a poor peasant woman in the village of Stromford has just died, and her thirteen-year-old son is now alone. He has lived his entire life in the village and is known as Asta's son, rather than his own name.

Shortly after the death, Asta's son is accused of a crime he did not commit and declared a "wolf's head." This means that anyone may kill him on sight. Forced to flee the village, Asta's son slowly begins to unravel the mystery of his existence and why he is being tirelessly pursued. He is befriended by a man with his own agenda who teaches and encourages him to think for himself.

This was a simple, but engaging story of courage and discovery. It was very predictable, but entertaining and well worth the read.


43 / 50 books. 86% done!


15,307 / 15000 pages. Goal achieved!

Though I didn't achieve my fifty book goal, I am quite satisfied with the forty-three books I read in 2009. As usual, December was insanely busy, and the little free time I had was mostly spent on writing and relaxing. I reached the 15000 pages goal which was great. I will have the same reading goals for 2010. Behind the cut is the rest of my 2009 book list.

Books 1-40

1. Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Complex heroine; captivating, buoyant adventure.
Personal Rating: «««¾

2. Title: The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Author: J.K. Rowling
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Amusing, insightful snippets; missing HP. :/
Personal Rating: ««««

3. Title: Getting in the Game
Author: Dawn FitzGerald
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Surprising, gritty, realistic; worth reading.
Personal Rating: «««½

4. Title: Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister
Author: Liz Kessler
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Charming, whimsical, feel-good tale.
Personal Rating: «««¾

5. Title: The Tail of Emily Windsnap
Author: Liz Kessler
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Light but enchanting; unrealistic dialogue.
Personal Rating: «««½

6. Title: The Hunger Games
Author: Suzanne Collins
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Thoroughly engaging, intelligent, action-packed.
Personal Rating: ««««¼

7. Title: Well Witched
Author: Frances Hardinge
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Fascinating plot; disjointed, jarring style.
Personal Rating: «««¼

8. Title: The Inferior
Author: Peadar Ó Guilín
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Disturbing; plodding writing style.
Personal Rating: «««½

9. Title: The Perfect Neighbor
Author: Nora Roberts
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Typical, formulaic; surprisingly good elements.
Personal Rating: «««¼

10. Title: Uglies
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Insightful and intriguing; jarring metaphors.
Personal Rating: «««¾

11. Title: Heroes of the Valley
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Annoying protagonists; disappointing, surprising ending.
Personal Rating: «««½

12. Title: Pretties
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: "Bubbly" with engrossing plot twists.
Personal Rating: «««¾

13. Title: Specials
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: "Icy" conclusion to amazing series.
Personal Rating: «««¾

14. Title: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
Author: Alison Goodman
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Intricate details; stunning, exhilarating story.
Personal Rating: ««««¼

15. Title: The Swan Kingdom
Author: Zoë Marriott
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Unfortunate dedication; slow but pretty.
Personal Rating: «««½

16. Title: Extras
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Riveting, new perspective of series.
Personal Rating: ««««

17. Title: Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast
Author: Robin McKinley
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Slow but good; richly detailed.
Personal Rating: «««½

18. Title: Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox
Author: Eoin Colfer
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Another great addition to series.
Personal Rating: «««¾

19. Title: Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary
Author: Brandon Mull
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Fascinating characters; sinister plot twists.
Personal Rating: ««««¼

20. Title: Lyonesse: The Well Between the Worlds
Author: Sam Llewellyn
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Slow, confusing; convenient problem solutions.
Personal Rating: «««¼

21. Title: Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book One: The Lightning Thief
Author: Rick Riordan
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Great series start; fantastic adventures.
Personal Rating: «««¾

22. Title: Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book Two: The Sea of Monsters
Author: Rick Riordan
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Humorous; fun and exciting adventures.
Personal Rating: «««¾

23. Title: Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book Three: The Titan's Curse
Author: Rick Riordan
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Unexpectedly emotional; series continues surprises.
Personal Rating: «««¾

24. Title: Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book Four: The Battle of the Labyrinth
Author: Rick Riordan
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Loved the intense Labyrinth scenes.
Personal Rating: ««««

25. Title: Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book Five: The Last Olympian
Author: Rick Riordan
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Raging battles; awesome series conclusion.
Personal Rating: ««««¼

26. Title: Criss Cross
Author: Lynne Rae Perkins
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Quirky and contemplative; gorgeous prose.
Personal Rating: «««½

27. Title: A Great and Terrible Beauty
Author: Libba Bray
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Creepy spine-tingler; lovely detailing.
Personal Rating: «««¾

28. Title: Princess Academy
Author: Shannon Hale
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Spunky heroine; feel-good tale.
Personal Rating: «««¾

29. Title: The Goose Girl
Author: Shannon Hale
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Super slow start; awesome ending.
Personal Rating: «««¾

30. Title: Darkwood
Author: M.E. Breen
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Totally unexpected plot; creepy adventure.
Personal Rating: «««½

31. Title: 100 Cupboards
Author: N.D. Wilson
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Snail-paced start; quirky characters.
Personal Rating: «««½

32. Title: Gone
Author: Michael Grant
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Highly engaging concepts; well-paced.
Personal Rating: ««««

33. Title: The Amaranth Enchantment
Author: Julie Berry
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Prosaic with touches of wit.
Personal Rating: «««¼

34. Title: The Ranger's Apprentice Book 6: The Siege of Macindaw
Author: John Flanagan
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Engaging battles; creative twists.
Personal Rating: ««««

35. Title: Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Riveting, intense; amazing plot twists.
Personal Rating: ««««¼

36. Title: The City in the Lake
Author: Rachel Neumeier
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Lifeless start; interesting villain; anticlimactic.
Personal Rating: «««¼

37. Title: A Curse Dark as Gold
Author: Elizabeth C. Bunce
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Dark and complex; beautifully written.
Personal Rating: ««««

38. Title: Grimpow: The Invisible Road
Author: Rafael Ábalos
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Slow, tedious start; intellectual adventure.
Personal Rating: «««½

39. Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Intriguing puzzle; engrossing, fast-paced.
Personal Rating: ««««

40. Title: Prism
Author: Faye Kellerman and Aliza Kellerman
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Half-baked with irritating dialogue.
Personal Rating: ««¾
Tags: award winner, crime fiction, fantasy, kidlit, mystery, suspense, thriller, young adult
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