October 25, 2013

Fall books full of fun reading

Posted in Between Us column, Books at 5:26 pm by dinaheng

If we are what we read, I guess I’m guilty of being a closet adventure seeker, enthralled with fantasy tales, romance, and stories that remind us of the goodness in life and each other.

Three Young Adult novels caught my eye recently. Each is part of a trilogy that shares the story of a young woman who grows to find her own strength, and leads others toward a more positive future. And while the circumstances surrounding the heroines may feel like every other dystopian novel, the characters hold a distinct light, saving the tales from conventional darkness.Dinah Eng

In Rae Carson’s “The Bitter Kingdom” (Greenwillow Books, $17.99), we learn the fate of Elisa, Godstone bearer and queen of Joya d’Arena, who leads a rescue mission to save Hector, Lord Commander of the Royal Guard, from the enemies who would take her kingdom and her one true love.

The book, which concludes “The Girl of Fire and Thorns” trilogy, is a fast-moving adventure story, filled with allegories that question why religious beliefs and racial prejudice so often lead to war. Elisa’s transformation from an overweight teen to a wise and regal queen is a journey every girl will relate to, and every woman will wish she could make.

"Deception" by C.J. Redwine

“Deception” by C.J. Redwine

C.J. Redwine takes fans of “Defiance” to a deeper, darker world of emotions in the book’s sequel, “Deception” (Balzer + Bray, $17.99), as Rachel, a warrior in a world where women are expected to be meek, struggles with the aftermath of losing her father and other loved ones as she goes on the run with a group of rebels into the Wasteland.

This book, the middle tale of the trilogy, is relentless in exploring Rachel’s anger and grief, which complicates her relationship with Logan, the young leader of the rebels. But as anyone who’s ever suffered a broken heart knows, you have to work through (not gloss over) the pain, in order to truly love with a full heart.

Tapping into a different cultural mythology, Lesley Livingston’s “Starling” series combines modern day life in Manhattan with characters descended from Norse mythology. In “Descendant” (Harper Teen, $17.99), Mason Starling is stranded in Asgard, home of the Norse gods and goddesses, while her true love, Fenrys, tries to rescue her before she takes the Spear of Odin, a relic that will set a terrible prophecy in motion.

At its heart, this is a story about a dysfunctional family, a battle between powerful, greedy humans who have lost their way, and a star-crossed romance that you’re bound to cheer for.

"Fortunately, The Milk" by Neil Gaiman

“Fortunately, The Milk” by Neil Gaiman

For the 8 to 12-year-old reader, there’s a charming new tale by the prolific, bestselling author, Neil Gaiman called “Fortunately, the Milk” (HarperCollins, $14.99). The book shares the adventure of what happens when a father runs out to buy milk for his children, gets kidnapped by aliens, meets a time-traveling Stegosaurus, and well… you get the idea.

Illustrated with wacky drawings by artist Skottie Young, this imaginative tale from the mind of a man who’s clearly picked up his share of milk will amuse both young readers and parents alike.

Since it’s nearly Halloween, the youngest readers will enjoy “Lulu Goes to Witch School” by Jane O’Conner (HarperCollins, $16.99), part of the “I Can Read – Level 2” series. Illustrated by Bella Sinclair, this sweet story teaches some important lessons about acceptance and friendship.

The little witch in all of us is guaranteed to smile.

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