Unnatural Issue, by Mercedes Lackey

Unnatural Issue

Written by Mercedes Lackey,  Narrated by Kate Reading

Reason for Reading: This was meant to be included in a fairy tale challenge in February, but that didn’t work out for me too well. But I’m still going to finish up my Donkeyskin books, regardless! 


Review
When Earth Master Richard Whitestone’s wife dies in childbirth, he discards their newborn  daughter Suzanne in a fit of rage. Suzanne is raised as a servant of the household, while her father wastes away in his chambers. After many years, Whitestone develops a new passion – necromancy. When he sees his daughter wandering his lands, he realizes she is the perfect vessel in which to trap his dead wife’s spirit. Suzanne must flee her father, and hide in the guise of a servant in another household. But her skill in Earth magic is difficult to hide…

This is a non-canonical retelling of the fairy tale Donkeyskin, and is part of Lakey’s Elemental Master series. Although it certainly has charm and originality, it is not my favorite of the Donkeyskin retellings, nor of the Elemental Master series. I felt the premise of the book – a necromantic father, Elemental Masters fighting in WWI, with a touch of romance – had promise. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t delivered as well as it could have been. The romance seemed forced, and the war sections uninteresting. Not that it was a terrible book, but it could have been so much better. Lackey is better than this. 

But, if you’re looking for a fluffy-quick read, or an original fairy tale retelling, this book will certainly deliver that. 🙂 The narration by Kate Reading was quite good. She did the voices well, and had good timing. 

The Arcade Catastrophe, by Brandon Mull

2012 Book 171: The Arcade Catastrophe, by Brandon Mull

Reason for reading: This is a sequel to a book I loved – The Candy Shop War. Plus, I’ve read all of Mull’s books, so I can’t stop now, can I? This book counts for California in my Around the World Challenge. It’s this week’s review for Read and Review Hop, hosted by Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings.

Review
Nate, Summer, Pigeon, and Trevor believe that things have calmed down since the wicked plans of Belinda White were foiled last year. But when they find out that Jonas White, Belinda’s brother, is running a suspicious Arcade in the area the kids are plunged into a new adventure. Because magicians can MAKE magic, but can’t actually USE it (and because they’re only safe from magical attack if they’re in a magical sanctuary – so they’re not often mobile), they use magical candy to recruit kids to do all their dirty work. Nate and his friends must use magical powers provided by the Magician/Candyman Mr. Stott to infiltrate White’s team. White sends them on a wild and magical treasure hunt for a dangerous artifact. How can the kids keep undercover without providing White unimaginable power? How can they keep such a huge secret from Lindy Stott? 

Mull intended The Candy Shop War to be a standalone book, but because people kept asking for a sequel, he delivered. And you know what? I’m pretty sure it was better than the first book! Mull’s writing has developed quite a bit since he wrote The Candy Shop War. This book has adventure, humor, and good characters. It was a delight to read. I had a hard time putting it down. Originally, I was skeptical because I’m a fan of keeping standalone books standalone, but I’m really happy Mull wrote this book and I’m eager for the following one. 😀 These books are aimed at a slightly younger crowd than the standard YA book…I’d say they’re appropriate for 11-year-olds, but could be enjoyed by kids (and adults) of other ages too.