Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ultraviolet Book Review

 Author: R.J. Anderson. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Carolrhoda Books. ISBN: 9780761374086.

Annotation: After her classmate, Tori Beaugrand, disintegrates in front of her, sixteen-year-old Alison Jeffries finds herself as a patient at Pine Hills mental hospital and a suspect in Tori’s murder.   

Personal thoughts: I had heard mixed things about this novel and when I began reading it I had very few expectations. Within the first chapter, however, I was hooked. R.J. Anderson’s writing style is spot on, and I loved how the story wasn’t melodramatic. I was fascinated by Alison and her abilities, and think that they will make for a very strong series. I truly did not see the “twist” in the novel coming, and felt like I was on my toes throughout the story. I’m really looking forward to the sequel, and plan to recommend this novel to teens who want something different, original and entertaining.   

Plot summary: All her life, Alison Jeffries has been able to see, taste and smell things no one else can. When she listens to music, the notes form rich, colorful patterns in the air. Certain letters leave a disgusting taste in her mouth and some words are as delicious as chocolate. When she was a child, her mother told her never to talk about what she was seeing, making Alison think that her visions were crazy. Now she is sixteen, and Alison has spent her life trying to hide her abilities from the world, turning her into a loner at school. No amount of preparation can prepare Alison, however, for what happens one fateful afternoon behind her high school. Tori Beaugrand, a beautiful, popular, out-going student, and Alison get into a fight. Longtime rivals, Alison has had enough of Tori’s bullying and, more than anything, the harsh noise Tori gives off that no one else can hear. After Alison punches Tori, something she never dreamed of doing, something horrible happens: Tori disappears. Tori’s disintegration, coupled with the most unbearably painful noise Alison has ever heard, is more than she can handle. Alison awakens days later in the hospital, her body bruised, and learns that Tori is missing. Convinced that she killed Tori, but not sure how, Alison is moved to Pine Hills, a institution for teens with mental illness. Now that she is a suspect in Tori’s murder and under constant surveillance from her doctors, Alison begins to wonder if her mother was right. Is she truly insane or is their more to her abilities and what happened to Tori than she realizes?

Review:  Part Girl, Interrupted part A Wrinkle in Time, this first installment in R.J. Anderson’s new series for teens offers something slightly more cerebral yet thought-provoking than the usual young adult novel. From the start, the reader, like Alison, is not sure what is truth and what is fantasy. Alison sees beautiful, flowing colors when she hears sounds, she ascribes tastes and sensations to words and numbers, and she smells emotions. The author’s descriptions of these abilities are very well-done and seem realistic enough to raise the question of whether or not she herself experiences what Alison does. At first slightly un-settling, readers will eventually get used to Alison’s interesting sensations, and appreciate the crucial part they play at various points in the story. Alison’s experiences in the Pine Hills mental illness facility also raise questions for the reader: is she crazy? Does she belong in the facility? Will she ever be released? These, along with the more science-fiction aspects of the novel, combine in an interesting way that makes for an original and unique story that will hold great appeal for the right type of reader. The second novel in the series, Quicksilver, is set to be released on September 6, 2012.

Genre: Science-Fiction

Reading level: Grade 7+

Similar titles: The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates, Tighter by Adele Griffin, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.  

Themes:  Mental illness, mental hospitals, murder, synesthesia, sanity vs. insanity.

Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal.

Series Information: First installment in Ultraviolet series. Second novel, Quicksilver, set to be released September 6, 2012.    

Discussion questions:
-       Why do you think Alison’s mother didn’t want her to talk about her abilities?
-     Do you think Alison should have been a patient at Pine Hills? Why or why not?
-      Research “synesthesia.” Is it a real condition?
-       Were you surprised to learn the truth about Faraday’s research study?
-    What would you like to see happen in the sequel?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eve Book Review

 Author: Anna Carey. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  HarperCollins. ISBN: 9780062048503.

Annotation: In the year 2032, sixteen-year-old Eve is preparing for graduation from School, a place she has been living with other girls her age since a deadly plagued wiped out most of the world’s population years earlier. When Eve finds out the truth about her future holds post-graduation, however, she escapes and ventures into the wild trying to survive in a world full of broken down buildings, vicious packs of wild animals, and savage gangs of brutal men.  

Personal thoughts: Although I did enjoy this book, I couldn’t help but think for most of it, “Wow, this reminds of me ‘insert name of other novel.’” There was so much overlap for me with other young adult dystopian literature that I couldn’t really get into the story. I do realize that it is common for many YA novels to have similar concepts, themes, etc., and for that reason I think that the Eve series can be easily enjoyed by many readers who are really into the genre. It would make an ideal read-alike for fans of Hunger Games or Divergent especially. Even though I was not the hugest fan, I do plan to pick up the sequel when it’s released in July. I want to see what direction the series takes.  

Plot summary: The year is 2032, and most of the world’s population has been wiped out by a deadly plague sixteen years earlier. To try and reestablish order, the King of New America has formed Schools: places for young orphaned girls to live and become educated, hoping one day to work in a trade in the City of Sand. Sixteen-year-old Eve has been a student in such a school for ten years since her mother succumbed to the plague. Intelligent and disciplined, Eve is her class’ valedictorian, charged with the honor of leading her friends “across the bridge” to their new residence where they will learn their trade. The night before graduation, however, Eve learns the terrible truth about what happens to the graduates once they cross the bridge: they are turned into broodmares, impregnated over and over again to anonymously repopulate New America. Eve is horrified and escapes the walls of the School to try and reach Califia, a place that is said to be free and beyond the reach of the King. Pursued by government troops and struggling to survive in the wild, Eve encounters Arden, another runaway student from her School, and the pair, though former rivals, agree to travel to Califia together. Having been taught from an early age to fear all men except the King, Eve and Arden are terrified when they encounter Caleb, the first boy of their own age they have ever seen, who saves them one night from a vicious bear attack. As Eve gets to know Caleb, she finds herself experiencing something they didn’t teach her about in School: love. Will Eve’s newfound feelings get in the way of her making it safely to Califia?

Review:  Dystopian literature seems to be getting an increasingly sturdy foothold in young adult literature, and the addition of Anna Carey’s new series Eve further cements the genre as a literary powerhouse. The concepts in the novel have some degree of overlap with most other dystopian stories available: a plague has wiped out the globe leaving North America a barren wasteland. A rigid society has formed to help keep order in an otherwise chaotic world. A beautiful and intelligent girl finds herself meeting a handsome ruffian in the wilderness who teaches her how to survive. Unfortunately for Eve, there is very little new material in the plot. The one concept that is perhaps the most interesting and stands out in the novel is the idea of the girls being taught that men are not to be trusted. This was an intriguing thought, and one that was explored later in the romance between Eve and Caleb. The novel also makes mention of many classic works of literature that most teen readers will be able to understand and appreciate. Overall, Eve is entertaining, but there are many other series available that capture the excitement of the dystopian genre more successfully. The second novel in the series, Once, is set to be released July 3, 2012.

Genre: Science-Fiction

Reading level: Grade 7+

Similar titles: The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel, The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky, Legend by Marie Lu, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  

Themes:  Dystopian, plague, post-apocalyptic, oppression, love.   

Awards/Reviews:  Positive review from Lauren Kate, author of Fallen.

Series Information: First installment in Eve series. Second novel, Once, set to be released July 3, 2012.   

Discussion questions:

-     Why do you think the students at Eve’s school were taught to fear men?

-     If you were Eve, would you have left School after finding out the truth? Why or why not?

-     Why do you think Eve and Arden didn’t get along? What changed their relationship?

-    Do you think Leif is a protagonist or antagonist? Why?

-        Why do you think the King wanted Eve so much?

-       Were you happy with Eve’s choice at the end of the novel? Why or why not?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mercy: The Last New England Vampire Book Review

 Author: Sarah L. Thomson. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Islandport Press. ISBN: 9781934031364.

Annotation: As part of a school assignment, fourteen-year-old Haley Brown decides to study her ancestor, Mercy Brown, who died of consumption at age nineteen and was thought to have been a vampire who sucked the life from her remaining siblings after her death. The more she learns about Mercy, the more Haley fears that she is being haunted by the restless spirit who seeks to prove the truth about her death.

Personal thoughts: As a big fan of history, I was really looking forward to this novel because it is based on a true story, something I had never really experienced in paranormal young adult literature. I was not disappointed! Although the novel is short, the author does an excellent job of creating the appropriate atmosphere for Haley’s encountering the ghost of Mercy Brown. I also felt that the liberties the author took in fictionalizing Mercy’s story into a ghostly mystery were really well done. I would highly recommend this novel to history buffs, both teen and adult.

Plot summary: Fourteen-year-old Haley Brown is struggling with a lot of uncertainty in her life. Her cousin and close friend, Jake, is dying from an unknown chronic illness. Her dad and stepmother seem to be perpetually focused on her two-year-old half brother, Eddie. And her mom, who left their home in Rhode Island to live in New York City, promises Haley a Thanksgiving dinner of takeout when she comes to visit. To make matters worse, Haley has been assigned to research one of her ancestors, and decides to do her project on Mercy Brown. Mercy, who lived in the late 1800s, died of consumption at age 19. Her mother and older sister Grace died of the disease before her, and after her death, her younger brother Edwin fell ill. Determined to protect his only son, Mercy’s father, at the request of the townspeople, exhumed Mercy’s body. When it was found that her heart contained fresh blood, she was branded a vampire who was returning from beyond the grave to suck the life out of her brother. Her heart was burned, and Mercy’s name was forever slandered. As Haley learns more about Mercy’s life, strange things begin happening. Haley is plagued by the disembodied sound of a beating heart, icy cold sensations, and mysterious messages left for her to see. Could the ghost of Mercy have returned to help Haley clear her name as a vampire?

Mercy Brown's headstone
Exeter, Rhode Island
Review:  Although it is short in duration, this quiet mystery from esteemed author Sarah L. Thomson provides a different approach to the vampire craze that has swept young adult literature, one for readers who want a book with something below the surface. Based on the true story of Mercy Brown who died in 1892, teens who are fans of history, particularly that pertaining to New England, will enjoy the author’s inclusion of historical accounts in the plot of the novel. Mercy was truly exhumed, her heart was cut-out post-mortem and burned, the ashes given to her brother Edwin who was dying of consumption. Although the author does fictionalize the true “vampire” in the novel, learning about the real Mercy Brown and how people, especially women, were often vilified as the source of disease and other natural occurrences adds a great deal of depth to the story. Readers can be entertaining by Haley and her efforts to uncover the truth about Mercy and her connection to the rest of the Brown family, while being asked to think about the implications of the story beyond the scope of the mystery. Being based in part in history, Mercy would have a strong place in a middle school collection, particularly in drawing in more reluctant readers who are unsure about the historical fiction genre. Overall, a brief but strong novel that can be enjoyed by teen and adult readers alike.

Genre: Fiction/Ghost Story

Reading level: Grade 6+

Similar titles: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, The Poisoned House by Michael Ford, Tighter by Adele Griffin, Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey, Lark by Tracey Porter.

Themes:  Ghosts, vampires, New England, family history, haunting, mystery.  

Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews from Amanda Marrone, author of Devoured, Michael Bell, author of Food for the Dead, and Christopher Rondina, author of Vampires of New England.

Series Information: N/A  

Discussion questions:
-      Why do you think Haley preferred to talk to Jake more than her father or stepmother?

-    Do you think Haley was being a good friend to Mel? Why or why not?

-      Why do you think Aunt Brown didn’t want Haley to bring Sunny to her house?

-      Do you think Haley’s feelings towards Eddie changed as the story progressed? How?

-     Research the real Mercy Brown. Is there anything about her life that is not included in the novel?

-       What role did superstition play in Mercy’s time? How have things changed?

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Dead Kid Detective Agency Book Review

 Author: Evan Munday. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  ECW Press. ISBN: 9781550229710.
Annotation: After moving with her father to the small Canadian town of Sticksville, thirteen-year-old October Schwartz inadvertently becomes the primary detective, with the help of five ghosts who live in the cemetery near her house, in the mysterious death of her high school French teacher.   
Personal thoughts: I have to admit that when I first started reading this novel I had trouble getting used to Evan Munday’s writing style. Not many authors joke quite as much as he does in telling the story, so it was somewhat new territory for me. Once I became more accustomed to it, however, I ended up really enjoying this book! Munday’s pop-culture references were spot on for me, making me laugh at the nostalgic feelings they conjured up. That being said, I do think that this aspect of the novel will be lost on many readers since I am considerably older than the tween audience the story targets. The other side of the coin, however, is that readers might be sparked with an interest in learning more about what they’ve read, making The Dead Kid Detective Agency valuable in motivating tweens to research history and pop-culture. I also thought the "who-dun-it" mystery was very well-done, and I’m looking forward to uncovering the truth about the dead kids in the upcoming novels. I would highly recommend this title to tween readers who want something with a bit of edge and lot of laughs.
Plot summary: After her father gets a new job teaching high school biology, thirteen-year-old October Schwartz is forced to move to the small Canadian town of Sticksville to a house situated right next to a graveyard. A fan of horror novels and black eyeliner, October is actually kind of excited about the cemetery, but is not so thrilled to be starting at Sticksville Central High School. Having skipped a grade, she is a full year younger than the rest of the ninth grade class, and, to make matters worse, she will be facing the daily battle of running into her dad at school. Things at Sticksville Central are not as bad as October was expecting, however. She quickly makes friends with fellow outcasts Yumi and Stacey (a boy with an unfortunate girl’s name), and, at Yumi’s request, joins the curling team that is coached by Mr. O’Shea, her kind French teacher who is genuinely interested in October’s aspirations to be a horror novelist. October’s almost normal life takes an abrupt detour, however, when Mr. O’Shea is killed in a mysterious accident in the school’s auto-shop. Saddened by his death and the memories it brings back of her own mother’s disappearance when she was three, October is grieving one night in the cemetery when she suddenly encounters the ghosts of five “dead kids” close to her age. Although she is understandably unsettled by her new friends, October realizes that their ability to move through walls and travel unseen might be the key to finding out what really happened to Mr. O’Shea.
Review:  Veteran cartoonist Evan Munday’s quirky sense of humor leaks off the pages of his debut novel The Dead Kid Detective Agency, making for an enjoyable mystery and promising start to a new series for tweens. Since the author is Canadian and the book is set in Canada, American readers will have to get used to some of Munday’s references/vocabulary that differ slightly from what they’re used to. Once this is accomplished, however, young adults are sure to enjoy this witty story, full of pop-culture both past and present, comedy, a likable cast of characters, and even some of Munday’s cartoon art. October, the thirteen-year-old leading lady, will resonate with readers who have ever had to be the “new kid” at school or who have felt outcast by their more socially resilient peers. The addition of her ghost detective posse proves to be very entertaining, providing many opportunities for paranormal shenanigans, something that will undoubtedly keep the series entertaining as the following installments are published.  Although many of the pop-culture references are likely to soar over the heads of younger readers (i.e. REO Speedwagon, The Wicker Man and Meatloaf), Munday’s inclusion of a “glossary” at the end of the novel makes the story more apropos for the tween audience. Overall, The Dead Kid Detective Agency is an easily enjoyable, entertaining and downright funny story that many young readers are sure to love. A preview of the second installment, set to be released in Spring 2013, can be found in the final pages of the book.

Genre: Fiction/Mystery
Reading level: Grade 5+
Similar titles: Gilda Joyce series by Jennifer Allison, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, Tales of the Sinister City series by F.E. Higgins, The Tilting House by Tom Llewellyn.  
Themes:  Ghosts, mystery, murder, high school, horror novels, Canada.  
Awards/Reviews:  Positive review from Kirkus.  
Series Information: First installment in the Dead Kid Detective Agency series. Sequel set to be released in Spring 2013.

Discussion questions:
-       Have you ever had to be the “new kid” in school? What was it like? Do you think October’s initial experience at Sticksville Central was typical?
-      Why do you think Ashlie Salmons is so mean to October? Have you ever known anyone like that?
-       Do you think the author’s illustrations add to the story? Why or why not?
-      Did you learn anything about Canadian history or pop culture after reading the story? 
-      Who is your favorite of the five “dead kids”? Why?
-     What would you like to see happen in the next novel in this series?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cinder Book Review

Author: Marissa Meyer. Release date: 2012. Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends. ISBN: 9780312641893.
Annotation: Cinder Linh is a cyborg, part human, part machine, living in the futuristic commonwealth of New Beijing with her cruel stepmother and two stepsisters. A mechanic, Cinder supports her family by fixing androids, while trying to improve her own metal parts. Cinder’s life changes forever when Prince Kai, the heir to the throne of New Beijing, visits her shop with a broken android, one that holds information vital to the survival of the commonwealth.  
Personal thoughts: After reading many novels that have a great premise but poor execution, I was worried after reading what Cinder was about that, with such a strong and interesting idea, it might fall victim to the same fate. Fortunately, this is far from the case! Cinder is a truly enjoyable story and I was very impressed with Marissa Meyer’s skills as a writer after diving into the intricate world she created. The part of the novel that I found the most intriguing was her descriptions of the Lunars. Their back story and the character of Queen Levana are very interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with that the most as the series continues. I am chomping at the bit for the next novel!
Plot summary: Sixteen-year-old Cinder Linh is a cyborg. Part human, part machine, she lives as a second class citizen in the commonwealth of New Beijing, hundreds of years after the end of World War IV. Her stepmother, Adri, and stepsister, Pearl, are cruel. Constantly berating her and reminding her of her place as a metal monstrosity, Cinder’s only comfort is in the affection of her kind stepsister, Peony, and the family’s quirky but loving android, Iko. After her stepfather’s death years earlier left the family penniless, Cinder works as a mechanic in the New Beijing marketplace, fixing broken androids, hovers, and portscreens. Cinder is shocked one day when Prince Kai, the only son of New Beijing’s emperor, visits her shop with an old android that has stopped working. Cinder is puzzled as to why Kai would not take the droid to a royal mechanic, but suspects that it contains confidential information and agrees to fix it for Kai. What Cinder doesn’t know is that letumosis, a deadly plague that has killed hundreds of thousands in New Beijing alone and has infected Kai’s father, Emperor Raikan, is going to claim another victim: Peony. Inexplicably blaming Cinder for Peony’s contracting the disease, Adri sends Cinder to the palace to be a part of research conducted on cyborgs to find a cure for letumosis. As part of the antidote experimentation, Cinder is infected with letumosis so that her body’s reaction can be studied. What happens changes her life forever: it appears that Cinder is the only citizen of New Beijing who is immune to the plague.
Review:  Fun and inventive, this first installment in debut author Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles is an entertaining start to what is sure to be a popular series for young adults. Set in the futuristic commonwealth of New Beijing, Cinder weaves a complex but engrossing plot, creating a cast of characters and story that is sure to last through the remaining novels in the series. As the title implies, the story is a very loose interpretation of the classic Cinderella tale. The evil stepmother and stepsister are present, as is the ball, and the handsome prince. Cinder herself, however, is far from the beautiful yet demure servant in the Disney version. A tough cyborg mechanic, Cinder doesn’t swoon at the feet of Prince Kai, nor does she take the abuse she is subjected to lying down. Cinder is determined to escape her stepmother’s house, even going so far as to restore an “ancient” gas-powered car to do so. The addition of the plague to the novel also veers the plot away from the traditional fairy tale. The fear of letumosis is something that permeates the story, creating tension that readers who have experienced a chronic illness in themselves or a family member will certainly identify with. Danger from the Lunars, the inhabitants of the moon lead by the beautiful but evil Queen Levana , adds another intriguing element to the plot. Overall, Cinder is a thoroughly enjoyable debut novel and can be easily enjoyed by a variety of young adult readers. The second installment in the Lunar Chronicles, Scarlet, is set to be released in 2013.
Genre: Science-Fiction
Reading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, Legend by Marie Lu, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano.
Themes:  Cinderella, cyborgs, plague, fairy tales, war, royalty, dystopian.
Awards/Reviews:  Starred review from Publishers Weekly. Positive reviews from Horn Book Magazine, VOYA, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Kirkus and Booklist.
Series Information: First installment in the Lunar Chronicles. Second installment, Scarlet, set to be released in 2013, third installment, Cress, in 2014, and fourth installment, Winter, in 2015.
Discussion questions: 
-     Why do you think Adri and Pearl were so cruel to Cinder?
-     Why did Kai bring his broken android to Cinder?
-     Do you think Dr. Erland is a protagonist or antagonist? Why?
-      How would you explain the “magic” of the Lunars?
-     How does letumosis compare to any real-life diseases?
-     What would you like to see happen in Scarlet 
-     Who was your favorite character in Cinder? Why?

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Circle Cast: The Lost Years of Morgan Le Fay Book Review

Author: Alex Epstein. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Tradewind Books. ISBN: 9781896580637.
Annotation: After her father is betrayed and murdered by Uter Pendragon, Morgan is exiled to the savage wilderness of Ireland. There, she struggles to survive, hoping to eventually be able to avenge her father’s death and reclaim her place in Brittania.
Personal thoughts: I have always been intrigued by the character of Morgan le Fay, so I was excited to read The Circle Cast. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the novel! Sometimes historical fiction, no matter how interesting, can be a little dry. That was far from the case with this novel. Alex Epstein is clearly a gifted writer in terms of pacing and keeping the plot moving forward. I also found the characters and setting to be very well developed, particularly in Epstein’s portrayal of Morgan as a strong and intelligent warrior. I think this novel has a strong place in the classroom, especially in demonstrating how one female character can be portrayed in so many different lights.
Plot summary: The daughter of a Roman governor, Gorlois, and his beautiful wife, Ygraine, Anna has spent her life in her parents’ British stronghold Din Tagell, reading the classics, learning about the culture of Rome, and being educated by her father in the ways of war. When Anna is eleven-years-old, however, her life changes forever when her father’s friend and ally, powerful warrior Uter Pendragon, betrays and murders Gorlois in order to claim Ygraine as his wife. Fearing for her daughter’s life, Ygraine sends Anna to live in Ireland, telling her adopt the name Morgan and let no one know her true identity lest Uter find out where she is hiding. Morgan soon finds herself living with Ciarnat, her mother’s relative, and chief of the Déisi tribe. The Irish are strange and barbaric to Morgan, who is used to the learning and discipline of the Romans. After Ciarnat’s village is attacked and plundered by a neighboring tribe, Morgan is captured and becomes a slave to Buanann, a wise woman and sorceress living in a lakeside village. Although Buanann is far from warm, she begins to teach Morgan her magic: spells to deceive and gain power. The more Morgan learns, the more she realizes that Buanann’s teachings may hold the key to her returning to Brittania and seeking the revenge she longs for against Uter.
Review:  Written by veteran screenwriter Alex Epstein, The Circle Cast is an intriguing and original take on a character that has appeared in legends and lore for centuries: Morgan le Fay. Although she is traditionally thought of as a seductress and antagonist in Arthurian legend, Epstein goes for another, more uncommon portrayal, turning Morgan into a fierce warrior seeking to avenge her father’s death. Almost from the start of the novel, it is clear that Morgan is a very strong character. Throughout the story, readers will find a lot to be respect about Epstein’s version of Morgan, including her intelligence, bravery, and tenacity. Although she knows to use her beauty as a weapon if necessary, this Morgan is not the temptress she appears to be in more contemporary versions of the tale. Her romance with Irish warrior, Conall, adds a nice element to the story, softening Morgan’s edges a bit, though not diminishing her skills as a strategist and sorceress. There is also a fair amount of history thrown into the novel that would make it an interesting read for the classroom. Overall, The Circle Cast is a thoroughly enjoyable story that can be easily enjoyed by teen and adult readers alike. Fans of Arthurian legend should definitely give this novel a try, as well as those who like strong female characters.  
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Reading level: Grade 8+
Similar titles: I Am Morgan le Fay by Nancy Springer, Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie, Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter.
Themes:  Morgan le Fay, King Arthur, Arthurian legend, Ireland, England, war, revenge, exile.  
Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews from The School Librarian and Historical Novels Review.
Series Information: N/A
Discussion questions: 
-     Had you heard of Morgan le Fay before reading The Circle Cast? What did you know about her? 
-      Do you think it’s common for strong women in history to be portrayed as temptresses? Why? What other characters in history or legend have been portrayed this way?
-     Why do you think Luan wanted to stay with the Christians? Do you think what she did was right?
-      Do you think Morgan loved Conall? Why or why not?
-       Do you think Morgan got the revenge she wanted? Why or why not?