Friday, June 8, 2012

What we're reading: Incarceron

Anarda has been recommending Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher, both to book club and to me, for awhile now, and after our book club party, I finally decided to read it. Here is my reaction...

by Catherine Fisher
442 pages (hardcover)
Fantasy/Science Fiction/Steampunk
Series (book one of three)
Ages 12 and up?
Review by Melliott

S U M M A R Y :
Incarceron is an experiment that has gone wrong: It's a giant prison that was built to do two things--rid society of all its troublemakers and criminals, and set up an ideal living environment for them--a utopia. But after 160 years, the prison is now both self-contained and self-perpetuating, and its inhabitants are born, live and die there in a sealed, dark, deteriorating hell.

The book focuses on two characters: Finn, a young man imprisoned in Incarceron, who has a strange bird tattoo on his wrist and no memories from before about the age of nine, which leads him to believe he used to live Outside; and Claudia, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, who lives in a kind of prison of her own.

At the same time Incarceron was created, the reigning king of this world decided that the only way to preserve human society was to stop time by insisting everything conform to a particular "civilized" Era from the past; Claudia is trapped in the facsimile of this repressive era, and destined to marry the heir to the throne, whom she loathes. Finn is motivated by dreams of escape, although legend has it that only one man--Sapphique--ever got out of Incarceron. Claudia also longs for escape, and things get interesting when these two discover a way to communicate with each other and start solving some mysteries together.

R E V I E W :
This was an interesting premise, well written and fast-paced, and I liked the way it played out. I identified with the characters, including some of the secondary ones like Keiro (Finn's oathbrother) and Jared (Claudia's "Sapient" tutor), and cared what happened to them. I wasn't as fascinated with all the details of Incarceron, although I think Steampunk fans would like that part a lot, but the story itself was gripping from start to finish, and the cliffhanger on which it ended was a satisfying one for the reader, who at this point knows more than some of the characters. I particularly liked how the author started each chapter with a quote from archives and legends she imagined to go along with her tale.

The cover treatments are a nice combination of natural and technological elements behind the crystal key that is at the center of Incarceron, and the keyhole/lock into which it presumably fits on Sapphique.

I plan to check out the sequel--Sapphique--for this weekend and keep reading about Finn and Claudia!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Remember Frankie Landau-Banks?

As in, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart? We read this book in high school book club last year, and had a fairly lively discussion about it, as I recall, but if you want to see a REALLY INTENSE discussion of every aspect, go here:

This is a 15-part video discussion of the book by: Kristin Cashore (author of Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue); children's lit professor Deborah Kaplan; children's lit critic Rebecca Rabinowitz; and assistant book agent at the Sheldon Fogelman Agency Amy Stern. They all studied at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College. Now THIS is a book discussion! Here below is a photo of Kristin Cashore's color-coded copy of the book after she was done reading it. She says: "You know I got a LOT out of a book when it looks like this when I'm done!"

If you haven't read the book, maybe you will want to give it a try!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


We had our BOOK CLUB PARTY and made our selections:

The 8+9 Club will be reading the Midnighters series, by Scott Westerfeld (who also wrote Uglies etc. and Leviathan etc.). The first book is called The Secret Hour:

In Bixby, Oklahoma, time freezes for an hour at midnight, and only those born precisely at the moment of midnight can enter that hour. These Midnighters discover they each have a special power (only available to them during this hour). Jessica Day, a 15-year-old (born at midnight) who has just moved to Bixby, is trying to discover hers...

The 6+7 Club is receiving their runner-up series choice. We're sorry, but the Jack Higgins series we selected has one book out of print, and the first book is not readily obtainable either. So, we MAY be reading the Faerie Wars Chronicles, by Herbie Brennan (although this one is hard to find as well, and we are still researching):

While Henry Atherton is doing chores at the house of eccentric old Mr. Fogarty, he comes upon Pyrgus Malvae, crown prince of the faerie Realm, who has escaped (through a portal to mundane Earth) from the Faeries of the Night, who want to kill him. Mr. Fogarty and Henry decide to help the prince return home, but the challenges they face are complex: an evil demon, two glue factory owners, and Lord Hairstreak (leader of the bad faeries), all of whom wish to take over the Realm.

Or, we MAY be reading Sandry's Book--The Circle of Magic series, Book One, by Tamora Pierce!

Four elements of power, four mages-in-training learning to control them. In Book 1 of the Circle of Magic Quartet, gifted young weaver Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief with a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. The four misfits are taught how to use their magic, but when disaster strikes, it's up to Sandry to weave together four different kinds of power to save herself, her friends, and Winding Circle.

The books are on order, and we will email/call you when we have received them to tell you when you may pick them up and start reading!