Fantasize all you want

How about some fantasy for this week’s blog? There are 80 zillion books on the subject, or so it seems, and most of them are mediocre at best. On the other hand there are some worth noting.

I can’t decide whether I like fantasy or not, though I do like Sci-Fi. Actually, I like most anything that is well written. And that’s the problem I have with a lot of fantasy; it’s not well written. If you want to sample some good fantasy, read John Claude Bemis’ trilogy based on tall tales such as the nine-pound hammer. Along the way, you’re given a good dose of American history.

And we all fantasize about how we’d like our lives to be or how nice it would be to live in a peaceful world, where everyone is treated as an equal. Hope you enjoy my selections.

The first story is quite intriguing with all kinds of plot twists.

Jeanne Ryan
A cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for while discovering who your true friends are, this book does let the reader suspend disbelief for the most part. I’m not fond of prologues, though some of Shakespeare’s are spectacular, but this one isn’t and gives away that game players are never free of the “Watchers.” Plus the girl in the prologue never is mentioned in the story which follows. Seventeen-year-old Vee has watched other people compete for prizes given by an online game producer called Nerve and has laughed along with all her friends as the contestants do silly and embarrassing things. Successful competitors move up the levels to harder and more dangerous dares, but it’s all a fake, right? Vee is suckered in to win a prize that’s seems picked just for her. Since the outcome of her dare is a bit more revealing than she has anticipated, she agrees with her best friend that she will do no more. In the meantime, Vee is serving her six-month’s punishment for falling asleep in her car with the motor running, parked in the garage and everybody thinks she is suicidal. She isn’t and she works hard to prove that to her parents. The prizes entice her to try another dare, which makes her friend super angry with her. The good things about the dares are the hot guy she’s been paired with and the ever more enticing prizes—like a full ride at a top-notch fashion-design school. But is it worth it to be stuck in a locked room with several other contestants all armed with guns? In desperation, Vee smashes a two-way mirror and escapes with her friends, declaring the game to be over, but is it?
BIBLIO: 2012, Dial Books/Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Ages 14 +, $17.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-8037-3832-4

The second book could probably be written about real life events, but in my mind it still is fantasy. I don’t think anybody has worked out a program that will tell you whether your current heartthrob feels the same about you or whether you can manipulate him/her into falling for you. This is a fun read.

The Boyfriend App
Katie Sise
Audrey loves working with computers and spending time with like-minded friends, including super-hot Aidan. Even though Blake, ex-bff, and her minions call Audrey’s group troglodytes, Audrey is comfortable with Aidan, Nijit and Mindy. But Blake can’t stop tormenting Audrey. And to make matters worse, when Audrey’s dad was killed in an equipment failure at Blake’s father’s company, the official word was driver error. So Audrey and her mom got no monetary compensation from the company and Blake’s father publicly blamed Audrey’s father. Things get more and more toxic until the two girls have a physical fight because Blake throws away Audrey’s rabbit foot charm given to her by her father. Blake’s uncle, Principal Dawkins, announces a contest for who can build the best app and says the prize is $200,000 of college scholarship money. But her mother has banned Audrey from using her computer for a week. Not to be stopped, Audrey—trained by her father to be a super hacker—starts brainstorming app ideas. After a texting exchange with Aidan about the homecoming dance, she hits on the winning app—how to find the perfect boyfriend. And with the help of her cousin Lindsay, Audrey’s app is a smashing success, even though it does produce some unlikely matches. But when she accidentally discovers the buyPhone, so popular with all teens, has been programmed to make the user want to buy unnecessary things, she decides to show the company and Blake’s dad up. She succeeds; in the end clearing her dad’s reputation, getting her perfect boyfriend—Aidan—and making Blake’s dad own up to all his lies. Although Blake is a bit over the top in her bullying, the story is well told and could be used for classroom discussions of bullying, believing in oneself and building computer applications.
BIBLIO: 2013, Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 13 +, $17.99.
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-06-219526-5
ISBN: 978-0-06-219528-9
The last book is fantasy in the more classical sense, I suppose, with a Daphne du Maurier darkness to it.

Kate Cann
Rayne has been caught up in the evil power of Morton’s Keep since she came to work at the tea shop two and half months ago. She had left home to get away from family drama and fell into much more evil drama. When the story opens she thinks the evil has been contained and that she’s safe, with even a new boyfriend in the making. The boyfriend part has its ups and downs, but the evil part just keeps getting bigger. Plus many of the townspeople think Rayne has special powers to save the town from the evil. Morton’s Keep is an ancient manor house originally owned by man who could conjure of nasty spirits and other terrifying entities and his true believers have tried to restore his evil through themselves. The Watchers work to protect the Keep and town from such evil by lighting bonfires at the points surrounding the area which would depict a six-sided star. Rayne’s new boyfriend is a watcher and fire dancer, which makes her wonder whether he really is interested in her or is just using her special powers. The Keep’s present owner hires a new, female, manager, who convinces him to embrace the building’s storied dark mysteries. He is smitten by her as things turn darker and scarier. Soon Rayne realizes she’s the key to saving everyone and uses her powers to find the missing link which will let the Watchers capture the evil presence for good. Other than feeling the story took place 14th century England, when people didn’t have cell phones, and is a sequel to an earlier book, the book is enjoyable. I never did figure out how old Rayne is, since sometimes she seems like a teenager, but people give her alcoholic beverages to drink on several occasions.
BIBLIO: 2009, Point/Scholastic, Inc., Ages 14 +, $16.99
REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan
FORMAT: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-545-26388-7

6 thoughts on “Fantasize all you want

  1. Sarah, thank you for giving me some new ideas for my reading list. I definitely agree with you and Linda that John Bemis’ Nine Pound Hammer is a great way to sample well written fantasy, even if someone my not be inlcined to normally choose this genre.

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