Friday, November 22, 2013


Brennan, Sarah Rees, Untold, The Lynburn Legacy, Book Two. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2013. ISBN-13: 978-0375870422 $14.68 YA Novel- fiction. 

Sarah Rees Brennan takes her readers back to the Sorry-In-The-Vale town. Untold, Brennan’s sequel to her Gothic work Unspoken, takes place a few days after Kami Glass, the story’s heroine, and her friends clashed against Rob Lynnburn, a man who lusts after power and control. In Untold, we, the readers, see the aftermath of the battle that took place at the end of Unspoken. Revealed as the series’ antagonist, Rob wishes to rule the town through fear, manipulation, and destruction. Seeking power and protection from Rob’s reign, members of the town with magic of their own have started to join him. Not willing to go down without a fight, Kami, Jared, their friends Angela, Holly, and Rusty, and the rest of the Lynnburn family join together to find allies of their own and search for a way to combat Rob’s vast number of followers. Further, in the devastating aftermath of her last battle Kami’s link with Jared severed. For the first time since their connection, Jared and Kami find themselves feeling isolated and vulnerable. Additionally, the two learn to find ways to cope with their mental separation and reconnect with each other in physical ways. Kami discovers she can now choose who to love without Jared’s overpowering influence and bond. But is her love for Jared real or is it the aftermath of their bond? To discover herself and fight against her enemies, Kami will need to burrow her way through Sorry-In-The-Vale’s secrets and, to her own shock, her own family’s secrets as well. What she discovers in the dark vault of secrets will test her in ways she never thought possible. Untold proves to be another stunning  and compelling work by Brennan. The witty and sarcastic humor is still there, elements of love and passion are further shown, and death continues to be a dark element to the story. Unlike Book One, Brennan draws out more of her characters by adding their voices throughout the book, exposing the reader to the character’s strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, without their bond, Brennan makes Jared and Kami appear a bit needy, shown as constantly pining for each other and worrying about each other’s thoughts rather than their own. Overall though, the story was nicely done and leaves the reader hanging at the end- a sudden pause of breath for whatever comes next in Brennan’s Book Three!

Jacquelyne Yawn

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Brennan, Sarah Rees. Unspoken, The Lynburg Legacy, Book One. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012. ISBN13: 9780375870415 $14.63 YA Novel- fiction.

Ever had an imaginary friend growing up? Well what if that imaginary friend you talked to as a child was real? 

Meet Kami Glass, a teenager living in the English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Kami is like most girls, she likes to dress in style, has a best friend and two crazy brothers, and is even in love with a boy- Jared, whom she has known all her life. However, no one knows about Jared except her due to the fact that he seems to exist only in her mind. Despite that odd quality, life is normal for Kami until the Lynburns move back to their manor in town. The Lynburns are a family that has a dark past and even darker secrets. The two teenagers, cousins, arrive at school and Kami quickly encounters the shock of her life. Jared is real. Now our protagonist needs to uncover not only the mystery of the Lynburn’s, but also her feelings about Jared. Through their mind link, the two are aware of their feelings and thoughts, but can Kami still trust him? And will Kami uncover the mystery behind the brutal animal sacrifices and nurder happening in her secretive town? Sarah Rees Brennan does a fantastic job creating a strong and compelling story in Unspoken. The author shows her ability to bring Gothic romance to a new and modern age with her independent heroine and the boy that needs to be saved. Brennan provides for her readers a strong cast of characters full of complexities and a dash of quirkiness. Throughout the story we see characters using witty humor in their dialogues that helps to lighten the atmosphere of a dark and suspenseful story. Even with grisly deaths, the reader can laugh as they read lines like: “Your soul like the souls of a thousand monkeys on crack, all smushed together.” Overall, the book is very entertaining to plow through and leaves the reader hungry for more.

Jacquelyne Yawn

Monday, November 18, 2013

ART MARKS by Sallie Lowenstein

Lowenstein, Sallie. Art Marks. Kensington MD: Lionstone Books, 2013. ISBN 978-9859618-0-0. $30 

The first thing you will notice about Sallie Lowenstein’s Art Marks is the book itself, by which I mean the artisanal uniqueness of its production. It’s a book of art, i.e. a handcrafted volume the likes of which you seldom encounter these days. It’s hand-bound and stitched with thick covers and corners like an old photo album, fittingly, since this is a book of memoir, of travel, of family, and of artistic discovery as Lowenstein relates and provides drawings from her childhood spent in Burma and India. As she writes on the opening page, “I wish every child a trip like mine to change their worlds and minds forever.”

Focused on a (magnificent!) road trip to Delhi in the late 1950s, she recalls the driver who sketched for her, opening the cosmos of art she has since pursued. It is a treat to see her drawings from decades ago—talented and observant child! She notes and draws the peacocks surrounding one of their hotels, camels and elephants elsewhere—all the swirling wonder of South Asia recalled in the grown-up’s reverie, a respite of cherished memory interspersed with the “hectic scramble of America.”

Constructed as it is, the book opens flat to numerous double-truck pages of gorgeous, vibrant illustration. Evidenced in her many other picture books, Lowenstein has a gift of both design and replication of, for example, the intricate decoration of Muslim art in Jaipur, in Agra, and of little known but poetically-named places like Fatehpur Sikri. These painting are sometimes on half pages; each page is thick, sensuous paper and the chosen font looks like beautifully-written print on old-style lined notebook sheets.

Lowenstein’s prose matches her art and honors the memory of her journey through descriptive words that convey not just sights but smells and touch, like the feel of sand. The words equal her topic and honor that turbaned driver of long ago who took the time to entertain and instruct a little girl from far away. The cover of the book and an inside illustration show his hand sketching a bird for her---- reminding us all that random acts of kindness can have lifelong benefits for those who receive them, including the creation of this truly lovely memoir.

Alida Allison 

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Klimo, Kate. Daughter of the Centaurs. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012. ISBN 13: 9780375869754 $14.57 YA Novel- fiction. 

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Kate Klimo brings a fresh new view of this setting. Instead of zombies, vampires, and the occasional werewolf (or both) we get centaurs. Daughter of the Centaurs centers around a young girl, Malora, who dreams of following her father’s footsteps to become a horse leader of the People, a small band of the world’s remaining humans. However, tragedy strikes when her People are massacred by a group of bat-like beings called Leatherwings. Left as the sole survivor, Malora finds herself alone with only Sky, her father’s stallion, as her companion and a herd of wild horses. Three years later, Malora and her herd are captured by a group of Centaurs, her People’s ancient enemy. To her surprise and astonishment, Malora finds companionship and a place to call home in the Centaurs’ society. Despite finding friends among the Centaurs, there are those who still fear and despise the foreign human. Will Malora ever truly feel welcome in her newfound community? The story is a great coming of age novel for young teens. Throughout the novel the reader comes across themes about belonging, those who feel ostracized, and society as a whole. As a first novel, Daughter of the Centaurs is a promising start for the trilogy. The story is entertaining, a great range of characters, and light-hearted. Yet, the book displays a few flaws that include lack of character development, not enough plot buildup, and a simplistic writing style. Overall though, the book is a fantastic read and recommended for any teen interested in a good fantasy.

Jacquelyne Yawn