Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Stone Girl's Story

Durst, Sarah Beth. The Stone Girl's Story
April 3rd 2018 by Clarion Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Mayka was made by Father, a master stone mason who has since died. She lives in the mountain with her family of stone creatures, but as their markings wear off with age, the creatures are in danger of slowing completely down, like Turtle, whom Mayka mourns. In order to restore him and keep the other creatures alive, Mayka decides to travel to the city of Skye, where father lived, in order to find another stone mason. Along with two birds, Risa and Jacklo she gets into the town only to find out there a stone festival in in the works, and everyone she meets acts a bit oddly and tells her to have her "keepers" ask for a stone mason. Jacklo goes missing, and when he is found, he is in the care of a stone mason to whom Garit is apprenticed. Unfortunately, Siorn has carved mark in Jacklo to make him obedient, and Mayka worries that all of the stone creatures are in danger. She finds out several secrets about Father and why he left, and learns more about a stone war that tore the community apart. With the help of her friends, old and new, she learns to trust in her own abilities to care for her family.
Strengths: This is a very solid, fast moving fantasy with good world building and intriguing characters. It's a great length for elementary students who want to read up-- my children would have loved this in about 2nd grade, when Magic Treehouse books became too easy.
Weaknesses: I'm never a fan of epilogues, so I could have down without the scene where Garit and Ilery come to the mountain to visit Mayka once they are grown up. Most readers will be glad to find out what happened later, but I like to make up my own endings!
What I really think: This has some similarities with Durst's The Girl Who Could Not Dream,  but isn't quite as exciting as The Journey Across the Hidden Islands. I'm not sure I have readers for this, but it's definitely a good fantasy book for readers who don't want something too scary.

35603935Lauren, Ruth. Seeker of the Crown.
April 3rd 2018 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
ARC provided by the publisher

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:
"Valor risks everything to protect her friends in this second book in a thrilling fantasy series that's Percy Jackson meets Frozen.

One month has passed since Valor broke her twin sister Sasha out of jail. But the girl who imprisoned her to begin with—Princess Anastasia—has gone missing. The queen, desperate to find her daughter, asks Valor and Sasha to track Anastasia down and bring her home.

But just as the girls and their friends embark on the search, the queen also vanishes, throwing the realm into utter chaos. If Valor can't restore order, she risks getting sent back to prison . . . and tearing her newly reunited family apart once again. She must rely on people she can't quite trust, as well as her own instincts, to protect the people she holds dear." 

Strengths: Valor and twin Sasha get along better in this book, and Valor is more likable. There are lots of twists and turns, changes in alliances, and lots of good world building and details about what's going on.
Weaknesses: Nothing really fresh. Vaguely Nordic fantasy kingdom, political intrigue, sisters working together against evil. Readers who like this sort of book need a LOT of similar titles, but I'm always looking for something that will have a new twist.
What I really think: I enjoyed Prisoner of Ice and Snow, but just couldn't get into this on the night that I read it. I will definitely buy it because the first one has been popular. 

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