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Melting Stones
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Almost as prolific as she is popular, Pierce bucks convention and brings this novel to audio a year in advance of its hardcover publication. Once a writer for radio theater, Pierce tailors the narrative to audio, which is evident in the enhanced use of dialogue to convey plot and the streamlined descriptions. The story itself is a continuation of adventures begun in Street Magic, part of the author's Circle of Magic cycle-fortunately, listeners can easily enter the fantasy world here without any previous acquaintance. Narrator Evvy, a young and battle-scarred mage whose words and thoughts are crisply, even commandingly read by Kelly, goes with her guardian Rosethorn to a "battle island" where the plants are dying off. With help from her friend Luvo, the living heart of a mountain (his voice sounds a bit robotic), she discovers that volcanic spirits plan to erupt. Production values are consistently high: carefully integrated original music raises the emotional stakes, and a skilled cast delivers full-bodied performances, even making good on lines like "his voice was as hard asdiamonds, and as soft as chalk." The novel is not one of Pierce's more surprising or innovative, but her typically strong characterizations and the superb acting camouflage its deficiencies. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Gr 8 Up-The council of mages, The Winding Circle, has received a request from the Battle Islands for assistance. Their plants are dying and their rivers are turning to acid, and the situation is getting worse. The Circle sends two mages, along with a student who has gotten herself into a bit of trouble. Evvy has a choice-either go on the mission or be confined to Discipline Cottage. Her mentor is one of the mages, so she chooses to accompany them. When they arrive at the island, they discover that Evvy might be useful after all. What follows is a riveting story that has many inventive and exciting plot twists and turns. The story was originally created as an audio book, with actors helping the author develop the characters as they recorded. It was a fabulous idea, and the story features excellent character development because of it. Evvy has depth, and readers get hints as to her motivations and desires. The whole book, the first in a series, is an amazing ride.-Jennifer-Lynn Draper, Children's Literature Consultant, Oshawa, Ontario Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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