A Confusion of Princes

 It sounds like an obscure collective noun: A Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix. I thoroughly enjoyed this fun, plot-twisting sci-fi adventure. In an article for the latest issue of The Horn Book Magazine, fantasy writer T.A. Barron claims that the best fantasy has three essential qualities: depth of character, truth of place and richness of meaning. A Confusion of Princes can make a case for having all three.

Khemri is a Prince of the Empire, which means he is genetically altered to be faster and stronger than ordinary humans. He is also likely to be assassinated by other Princes who are competing for the role of Emperor. One of the best parts of the book is how Khemri grows from being a selfish, self-centered and arrogant teen into a compassionate and clever adult, with true depth of character. What teen hasn’t wanted to just get away from school and authority to do whatever you like? Khemri says at the beginning of the novel “I want to enjoy myself…Get a ship–you know, a corvette or maybe something smaller, of course with high automation, head out for some distant stars, see something beyond this moldy old temple, smoke a few Naknuk ships or the like….That’s not going to happen is it?”

No, it isn’t, primarily because Khemri’s Empire is not a safe place, even for a Prince with a Master of Assassins and various priests to see to his every need. The setting bounces between various planets, ships and academies, but the world  that is most fully fleshed out is one where Khemri ends up by accident–Kharalcha Four, a system with limited technology and no love for Princes. The descriptions of space ships, machines and various ‘teks’ or technologies get confusing at points, but Kharalcha Four is given many details that help the reader understand why Khemri feels at home there and decides to save these people, at any cost.

The third essential quality of good fantasy is richness of meaning. While an exciting plot, various narrow escapes and a light touch of romance are all present in this book, the heart of A Confusion of Princes is Khemri’s struggle to recover his humanity from the confusion of tek, special abilities and mind-conditioning he has had as a Prince. The question of what it means to be human and part of a family is the central idea of the novel. Readers will cheer for Khem as he makes up his mind about who, exactly, he wants to be.  — Cecilia

A Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix, HarperCollins, $17.99, ages 12 and up.

Awesome Teen Author Panel!

We’ve been so lucky to have a steady stream of YA Authors dropping by the store to share their books with all of you and next week we have 4 more! Come join us at 3:30 on June 30th and welcome Elizabeth Scott, Alethea Kontis, Diana Peterfreund, and Brigid Kemmerer to Hooray for Books!

Elizabeth Scott introduces her latest book, Miracle, the story of a young girl who is the only survivor of a plane crash. Megan is a miracle. At least, that’s what everyone says. Having survived a crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. But the truth is, she doesn’t feel like a miracle. In fact, she doesn’t feel anything at all. Then memories from the crash start coming back.  Miracle, Simon Pulse, $16.99

Diana Peterfreund’s book, For Darkness Shows the Stars, features 18-year-old Elliot North, a girl who chose family over love four years ago, refusing to run away from the caste system she grew up in, as the servant, Kai, wanted her to. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.  For Darkness Shows the Stars, Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, $16.99

Alethea Kontis’ foray into the young adult world is Enchanted. It isn’t easy beign the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true. When Sunday meets an enchanted frog, the two become friends and the friendship deepens into something magical. Sunday’s love transforms the frog into a prince!

A lovely retelling of “The Frog Prince.”  Enchanted, Harcourt Children’s Books, $16.99


Brigid Kemmerer has written Storm, a fast-paced story with lots of thrills and will definitely have you turning the pages faster and faster!

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys — the ones she doesn’t want. Then she saves Chris from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water– just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death. Storm, Kensington Publishing, $9.95

Come join us as the authors talk about their latest books, answer questions, and sign your copies.

It’s a New Release Extravaganza!

Rick Riordan, Kristin Cashore, and Veronica Roth ALL have new books out this week, adding to the series we (and our customers) already love. We know some of you have been chomping at the bit to get your hands on these and they’re finally here! We have lots of each, ready for our readers to come in and take them home. Give us a call and we’ll hold one for you.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth; $17.99; HarperCollins; Ages 14+

Insurgent is book 2 in the trilogy that started with Divergent. That book flew off our shelves this year and we know the  sequel is just as amazing! Talk about heart-pounding dystopian action!

The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan; $19.99; Hyperion Books for Children; Ages 10+

The Serpent’s Shadow is the 3rd and final installment of The Kane Chronicles. Rick Riordan is one of our favorite authors and we know our customers love him too! Check out what Carter and Sade are up to now.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore; $19.99; Harcourt; Ages 14+

Bitterblue is the companion novel to the bestselling Graceling and Fire. An amazing fantasy to immerse yourself in that definitely will take you to a whole other world. Kristin Cashore is fabulous!

April is National Poetry Month!

Sometimes poetry gets a bad rap. In school, poetry always ended up being the “boring” subject that no one wanted to participate in and I think if kids just had the right poems in their hands, they would see how fun and interesting poetry can really be!

April is National Poetry Month and we have a great poetry section in the store that will certainly spark an interest in your kids. Funny poems, shorts poems, long poems, dog poems, etc. We have something for every reader! If you or your children haven’t yet read any poetry together, April is definitely the month to do so. You can learn more about National Poetry month here.

One of the fun events that happens during Poetry Month is Poem in Your Pocket Day, which we encourage everyone to participate in! It’s easy: just selection a poem that you love, carry it in your pocket on April 26th, and share it with your friends, family, coworkers, etc. Spread the poetry love!

If you come into Hooray for Books! and share your poem with us, you’ll receive a gift from our grab bag!

Poetry can be cool, fun, and exciting! Just because it’s not a book with chapters or a picture book with lots of illustrations doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. Encourage your kids to read poetry and to have fun with it! We would love to show you some of our favorites in the store.

Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein;$19.99; HarperCollins; Ages 4+

Here’s A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry by Jane Yolen and illustrator Polly Dunbar; $21.99; Candlewick Press; Ages 4+

Edible Book Festival 2012

Get your creative juices flowing! Playing by the Book is hosting an Edible Book Festival, open to the public, to win some great prizes. You can enter, your kids can enter…anyone can enter!

What’s involved? Create an edible scene inspired by a children’s book and submit two photos of your work (via the website). First place is a original drawing by Emma Chichester Clark, author and illustrator of Lulu and the Best Cake Ever, plus 5 other picture books published by HarperCollins. Lots of other cool prizes!

You can find all the information on the Edible Book Festival site. If you enter, be sure to email us your photos! We would love to see them!

Hurry…entries only open until March 16!

Have a Warriors fan? Erin Hunter is headed our way!

We are SO excited to announce that author Erin Hunter, known for her super popular Warriors series and bestselling Seekers series, is coming to the store in April! She’s going to be chatting with you all and signing your books!

We know there are a lot of Erin Hunter fans in the area, so spread the word to friends and family. We would love to give Erin a full house of fans. Mark your calendars for Friday, April 13th. More details to come!

If you’d like to check out all the titles Erin has written, you can head to the Warriors site and find out all sorts of fun stuff about the books and their author.

You can pre-order your books and reserve your place in line by calling us at 703-548-4092.  If you’d like to be added to our email list to stay up-to-date on all our our author visits, let us know.  We have a lot going on in March and April!

Author Lincoln Pierce appearing at Hooray for Books!

We have lots of young customers that just love the Big Nate books! The comic strip style is super appealing and the funny stories will have even reluctant readers enjoying the books.  If your child happens to be one of those fans, author Lincoln Pierce will be at Hooray for Books on March 29th, talking about his books and signing your copies!

We’ll have specific times closer to the event, but for now, mark your calendars to stop by the store and meet Lincoln Pierce in March.  When you buy your book at Hooray For Books, we’ll give you a number to hold your place in line to get your book signed!  And if you haven’t checked out the Big Nate books, we highly recommend you do!

Great for ages 8+ and fun for boys AND girls.