Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Dashti is a mucker girl from the Steppes. Muckers are a nomadic people who live in tents called ghers. Dashti has the gift of healing song, common to muckers and these songs are used to heal and help people with illness, depression and other ailments. She has just been sent to be the maid of Lady Saren, the daughter of the Kahn of Titor's Garden, one of the Eight Realms of this fantasy. On meeting her new mistress, she finds that Lady Saren has refused to marry the man her father has chosen for her. Her father has just told her that she will spend the next seven years locked in a tower for her willful disobediance. Dashti is given the choice, will she go with her new mistress or leave? She chooses to stay and help her new mistress all she can. They are taken to a tower in the wilderness where they are bricked inside with only a slit to let in air and a small trap door to throw out waste. There is a seven year supply of food and firewood. There are guards who keep watch, day and night outside. Dashti starts to keep a journal of their seven year stay in the tower, the Book of a Thousand Days. In this journal she records her life and her attempt to befriend and understand her distant mistress. She keeps a detailed account of their life in the tower.
One dark night when the guards are sleeping, they hear a voice outside the trap door. It is the young Kahn Tegus that Lady Saren has secretly promised to marry. But Lady Seran refused to speak to him. "You speak to him for me, Dashti! Pretend you are me! I cannot talk to him!" So Dashti talks with Kahn Tegus for several evenings through the trap door and discovers that he is gentle, kind and brokenhearted that Lady Seran has been put into this prison tower for seven years. When Dashti tells of their struggle to protect their food supply from the rats that have invaded their cellar, he returns the next night and brings them a cat. When he does not return, Dashti finds that she misses him very much.
One night a very disturbing voice comes through the trap door. It is Kahn Khasar, the one Lady Saren's father had chosen for her. Once again, Lady Saren has Dashti pretend to be her and talk with him. He threatens that if she should ever reveal his dark secret, he will kill her. Lady Saren is so frightened of this man that she falls into a deep depression and refuses to talk. Whatever his dark secret is, Dashti, too, is terrified of this man.
Soon after this, the guards are attacked and killed by a vicious wolf. The wolf tries to get in through the trap door, tearing at the opening with his strong jaws. Their cat pounces at the wolf and disappears.
The girls are left completely alone. Weeks and then a year goes by. The rats return to ravage their food supply and Dashti must make the decision that will change both of their lives forever. She plans to break out of their prison and go to the Realm of Kahn Tegus for refuge. Will they make it? What is the dark secret of Kahn Khasar? This version of an old Mongolian fairy tale will keep you enchanted until the final page. You will find Book of A Thousand Days in Teen Fiction.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Clara Marsh is an undertaker who spends most of her solitary life taking care of the dead. From picking them up in the hearse, washing them, making them look their best. She chooses flowers from her own garden for the casket making her choice significant for the deceased and bereaved family. Her only friends are the owner of the funeral home and his wife. When a little girl begins spending time and hiding out at the funeral home, Clara becomes afraid she is involved in a child abuse ring. And Clara knows all about childhood abuse. This is a haunting story with a flawed heroine who prefers the dead to the living and the grieving cop who would like to change that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Leper by Sigmund Brouwer

This story is riveting! It is 1853, London, England and three days before Christmas. Returning home from military service in India, Nathaniel discovers his worst fears. His has leprosy. He must abandon his family and everything he loves rather than expose them to this dreaded disease. But after years of isolation, Nathaniel's loneliness and longing for his family is more than he can bear. Distraught, he decides to end his life. But before that can happen, he discovers an abandoned baby girl and experiences his first human touch in years. A delightful and moving story line evolves with characters that will make you laugh as well as cry. This story is sure to touch your heart!

The Leper is the November 2008 selection for the "Faith Inspired Book Club" and can be found in our religious fiction area.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

It's the time of knights and kings, evil lords, grotesque armies of telepathic monsters, hideous, almost invincible creatures from an ancient race of assassins. Forces of good and evil are massing for a final showdown and Will is a 15-year-old orphan who has dreams of one day becoming a knight. Tomorrow is the choosing day when the 15-year-olds are chosen by the kingdom's craftsmen, scribes, diplomats, military leaders at Baron Arald's castle to be their apprentices. Will is devastated when he passed over by the Battleschool for Knights because he is too small to be a knight. He is ready to give up hope of being selected at all when a mysterious cloaked figure steps out of the shadows and claims Will as his apprentice. Halt, the Ranger, takes Will to his home on the outskirts of the village and begins Will's training. Soon Will realizes that being a Ranger matches his own natural abilities. Will is stealthy, quick on his feet, agile and able to climb and get into places without being detected. He discovers from Halt that the Rangers are an elite, group of undercover spies who scout out the enemies and must use their skills to protect the kingdom from the evil armies of Lord Morgarath. Halt teaches him to use a bow, throw knives and to track. Gradually Will learns how to be a spy in the king's service and realizes how important the job is. and it is none too soon for there have been sightings of the rarely-seen, deadly Kalkara, a race of almost invincible assasins. They are on the hunt. But who are they hunting and why? When Halt begins to track these dangerous assasins, he sends Will to get the knights to meet them in the battle at the Ruins of Gorlan. Will he be in time to save the Ranger?

This is the first book in an exciting fantasy series by John Flanagan that will keep readers on the edge of their seat! Find this highly recommended book in the Teen Fiction section!

The Braid by Helen Frost

The Braid by Helen Frost is about a braid. Two sisters in Scotland in the 1850's are very close. They share the same bed, they always walk together with their arms linked together. One day, the Highland land lords decide all their tanants have to leave their homes forever. Their father sells his tools and buys tickets for his family to go on a boat to Canada. Sarah, the eldest sister, can't bear to leave Grandma Peggy, who refuses to go, and secretly plans to stay behind. The night before the family is to leave, Sarah and Jeannie, braid their hair together in a single braid. In the morning, Sarah is gone and the braid has been cut off. Jeannie finds half of the braid beside her in her bed and Sarah has the other half in her pocket. Jeannie, with her parents and younger siblings get on the boat and leave for Canada. Sarah watches from hiding and then joins her Grandma Peggy who returns to her birthplace on the island of Mingulay where they have relatives.

The story becomes a braid as first we hear Sarah's story, then Jeannie's story, and then a third short poem about something that has happened in each girl's stories. Each story is braided together by dreams, experiences with hunger, loneliness, love and tragedy. The two girls' lives are so closely braided together that even an ocean between them cannot separate them. They remain connected and can sense when the other is going through difficulties. It is a bond that is tighter than a Celtic knot. Helen Frost is a poet and gifted writer who has woven together this moving story of survival and love in a very intricate way! At the end she explains how she has carefully chosen her words, length of lines in syllables to match the girl's age and style to mimic the braid.

Look for this novel in the Teen Fiction collection!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Heartbreaking family story

Cost is Roxana Robinson's new novel. It is the story of a son who is struggling with heroin addiction, and the family that tries to reach out and help him. But it is also the story of a family that continuously struggles with connecting to each other. The descriptions of Jack's descent are grim and heartbreaking, but it's helpful and illuminating to get this point of view, to get in the mind of a person whose sole purpose in life becomes getting money to get the next fix. The other family members are drawn very well also--we get in all their heads, and see how much they love each other but how hard it is for them to communicate with each other. You may recognize some aspects of your own family in this novel, even if no one you know is experiencing an intervention or a serious drug or alcohol problem. All families are complicated, and this one is no exception. Highly recommended.