Teen Book Review: Seraphina

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Review by Fallon D., Northwest Branch

Seraphina Dombegh has just moved out of the house and works as the court musical assistant in her hometown of Lavondaville.  But this is no ordinary land. Dragons know fold themselves into human shapes to help with ruling, and as the 40th anniversary of the peace is almost upon them, Prince Rufus is murdered and dragons are the key suspects. Seraphna and Prince Lucan Kiggs, second heir to the throne, are dragged into the mystery, and find something much bigger than they ever expected.  All the while, Seraphina is trying to hide her secret.  Her secret behind her musical talent, her secret that could cost her life.

I loved this book!!  It was extremely well written, the depth of the storyline was intriguing, ans I sincerely cared about the characters. When I saw that both Christopher Paolini ans Naomi Novik, two of my favorite authors, praised it, I had to read it.  I was  not disappointed.  Although it was a little bit confusing in the beginning and took a little while for the storyline to pick up, once it did I couldn't stop reading.  I absolutely loved the two main characters, Seraphina and Kiggs.  Seraphina herself is a flautist, and so am I, so I could really connect with her.  Seraphina was a great tale of adventure, mystery, and identity.

Teen Book Review: The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Review by Fallon D., Northwest Branch

Buttercup, one of the most beautiful women in the world, lives on a farm; her joys riding her horse and taunting the farm boy that works there. When an unexpected visit of the count and countess arrive, she realizes she loves the farm boy.  She professes her love, and he goes to America to seek his fortune so they can eventually marry.  Soon, she finds out that he has killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts.  Devastated and not caring about her life anymore, she agrees to marry Prince Humperdink, but the adventure doesn't stop there.

Loving the movie since I saw it  years ago, I wasn't disappointed. The movie was very close to the book, only leaving out minor scenes.  The book was really well written and has humor, though not maybe as much as the movie.The characters were very interesting and likeable, and the storyline was great. If you liked the movie I would definitely recommend this to you, but even if you haven't its a great book.

Teen Book Review

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Review by Fallon, Northwest Branch

When 18-year-old Sophie's father dies, she stays at the family hat shop while her sisters move out of the house to seek their fortunes.  Convinced that she is going to go nowhere in life from being the eldest, Sophie is soon bored.  But when the infamous Witch of the Waste comes in to buy a hat and feels dissatisfied, she turns Sophie into an old lady.  Now Sophie must enter the dreaded Wizard Howl's Castle, who is known to eat the hearts of beautiful girls.

Why I Picked it up: I loved the movie of the same name directed by Hayao Miyazaki. When I found out it was a book, I had to read it!  Although it is much different from the book, I also recommend the movie.

Why I finished it:  The storyline was varied a lot from the book, but was still very intriguing and had interesting characters, although I still do not understand Howl.  But be warned that the author does a lot of foreshadowing and to pay attention to minor details.
I'd recommend it to: People who like fantasy, but it is not a typical fantasy.  It is funny in the dry British sort of way, if you know what I mean.  However, if you don't like English authors I would not recommend it to you.

Teen Book Review: The High King

The High King by Lloyd Alexander

Review by Fallon D, Northwest Branch

Taran the Assistant Pig-Keeper has come a long way since the beginning of the Prydain Chronicles.  After arriving home at Caer Dallben, Taran is at peace…but only for a little while.  Soon, a couple of old friends come bringing devastating news: the powerful sword of Dyrnwyn has been stolen by none other than Arwn, the Death Lord of Annuvin.  Prince Gwydion, the war leader of Prydain, must now journey to take back the sword.  But after only a little while the adventure turns into to something that concerns everyone in Prydain, with Taran and his companions playing a large and dangerous part in.
Being the fifth and final book of the Prydain Chronicles, which stated with The Book of Three, The High King is definitely the best!  This novel was noticeably darker than the earlier books, and the storyline was more complicated and interesting.  "You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." is a great quote by Paul Sweeney, and that was exactly how I felt when i finished this book! It made me really sad to think of the decisions that Taran made and the knowledge that the Prydain Chronicles are over. Fantasy fans will love this series and its characters.

Teen Book Review: Taran Wanderer

 Taran Wanderer   Taran Wanderer, by Lloyd Alexander 


Review by Fallon D.,  Northwest Library

            Taran Wanderer is the fourth book in the Prydain Chronicles, a series inspired by Welsh myths.  With Princess Eilonwy on the Isle of Mona to become a lady, Taran dreams of marrying her.  But he feels he should learn his parentage first and sets out with his companion Gurgi.  At first, the journey seems straightforward, going to the magical Mirror of Llunet.  But on the way, they run into rivaling lords,wizards,old friends,bands of unfriendly warriors, and various craftsman.
            This book was not as good as the preceding novels, but it was still a great book!  This novel is more of a coming of age book than the other ones in the series, and the agenda of the characters is not as urgent, and that's why it was not my favorite.  But I love medieval-style adventure books, and that is just what this book and series is.  You may not be a fan if you don't like authors that can be a bit wordy, but if you enjoy books like Christopher Paolini's Inheritance, the Prydain Chronicles are worth reading!

Teen Book Review: Demonglass

  Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

  Review by Anna, Sonoma Valley

 Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins is the second book in the Hex Hall series.  Sophie lives in a world where vampires, witches, werewolves, fairies, and demons, the most powerful mythical creature, exist.  Sophie herself is a demon, one of the few in the world.  After deciding to spend the summer with her dad in London, multiple assassination attempts were made on Sophie, who decides to do something about the fact that she's a scary and threatening demon. 

I enjoyed this book.  The book revolves around the teenaged-mythical-creature theme, but it was still fun to read.  I would recommend Demonglass to anyone that has liked fantasy fiction before.

Teen Book Review: Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl

  Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl by Daniel Pinkwater

  Review by Anna, Sonoma Valley Branch

 Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl by Daniel Pinkwater is the companion novel to The Yggyssey and The Neddiad.  Audrey is a girl with peculiar cat whiskers.  She recently moved to Poughkeepsie, and works in a store that specializes in aliens, UFOs, Big Foot, and anything science fiction.  Audrey befriends two people from the local loony bin, Professor Tag and Molly.  They all go on a crazy chase, trying to find out why there is a picture of a girl that looks exactly like Audrey, cat whiskers and all.

I enjoyed this book.  It was sometimes hard to follow, because Pinkwater makes up so many things and places.  It was still really fun to read, though, and I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys fantasy fiction.

RIP, Diana Wynne Jones

Man, it's been a bad year for authors, and it's still only March!  We lost another of the greats on Saturday, as British fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones passed away after a two-year battle with cancer.

Wynne Jones published books that were equally loved by children, teens, and adults, and writers as varied as J.K. Rowling to Neil Gaiman claim her as one of their greatest influences.

For more information about her rich life, read this obituary from School Library Journal, or this reminiscence from the blog of Neil Gaiman, who traveled to Britain to visit with her last week.  And for folks who haven't discovered her funny, wise, and witty fantasy books for all ages, check out some of these titles:

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci:

Charmed life 

The lives of Christopher Chant

Conrad's Fate

Witch week

The magicians of Caprona


The Derkholm series:

Dark Lord of Derkholm

Year of the Griffin


The Dalemark Quartet

 The Spellcoats

Drowned Ammet

Cart and Cwidder

Crown of Dalemark


The Howl's Moving Castle series

Howl's Moving Castle

Castle in the Air

House of Many Ways


And so many other wonderful stand-alone titles– HexwoodEnchanted Glass!  The upcoming "Earwig and the Witch!" 

 Diana, you will be missed.

Teen Book Review: Children of the Lamp Series

Lily from Petaluma is our very first teen book reviewer.  She reviewed the first four books in the Children of the Lamp Series by Philip Kerr.
The Akhenaten Adventure
The Blue Djinn of Babylon
The Cobra King of Kathmandu
The Day of the Djinn Warriors
     These books are great, they are about two twins named John and Philippa Gaunt who find out that they are djinn on a trip to their Uncle Nimrod’s house. Djinn are also known as genies, they have the power to grant wishes. John, Philippa, Nimrod, and Nimrod’s butler, Groanin are soon wrapped up in a complex mystery trying to defeat the ifrit, the worst tribe of djinn, in getting the lost 70 djinn of akhenaten. I will not tell you what the lost djinn are for fear of giving away the ending, but I will tell you that they are what will balance out the power of the djinn. Philippa is a witty girl with red hair and glasses and John, is a tall dark boy who is clever but not as witty as Philippa.  I really like these books they are funny and suspenseful! I could not put these down! I highly recommend them for readers anywhere from 8 to 14, I had a blast reading them and I hope you will to.

Did you read this series?  Let us know what you thought of it!

Do you want to become a teen book reviewer?  E-mail Tiffany at teenspace@sonoma.lib.ca.us or go to http://sonomalibrary.org/forms/teenbook.scl.