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Anne Ursu

Forfatter af Breadcrumbs

15+ Works 4,093 Members 209 Reviews 4 Favorited

Om forfatteren

Omfatter også følgende navne: Ann Ursu, Anne Ursu, Eric (ILT) Anne/ Fortune Ursu

Image credit: anneursu.com


Værker af Anne Ursu

Breadcrumbs (2011) 1,228 eksemplarer
The Shadow Thieves (2006) 985 eksemplarer
The Real Boy (2013) 489 eksemplarer
The Siren Song (2007) 299 eksemplarer
Spilling Clarence (2003) 293 eksemplarer
The Immortal Fire (2009) 186 eksemplarer
The Lost Girl (2019) 166 eksemplarer
The Disapparation of James (2003) 158 eksemplarer
Not Quite a Ghost (2024) 43 eksemplarer

Associated Works

The Future Dictionary of America (2004) — Bidragyder — 628 eksemplarer
Guys Read: The Sports Pages (2012) — Bidragyder — 199 eksemplarer
Swashbuckling Fantasy: 10 Thrilling Tales of Magical Adventure (2006) — Bidragyder — 79 eksemplarer
Riding Shotgun: Women Write About Their Mothers (2008) — Bidragyder — 24 eksemplarer
Politically Inspired (2003) — Bidragyder — 21 eksemplarer

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{stand-alone; fantasy, magic, children’s, young adult}(2021)

Sorcerers have an important job in Illyria - to protect the country against magical monsters, witches from the neighbouring country of Kel and the Dread - a strange purple cloud that can kill everyone in a village overnight. Everyone in their village has always known that Marya's brother, Luka, is destined to be a sorcerer and now the Council for the Magical Protection of Illyria has sent a letter to let his parents know that they're going to come and test him. But on the day of his evaluation a prank he pulled on Marya (in return for one that she pulled on him) goes wrong and Anton the goat - despite Marya's best efforts to stop him - causes a disaster which results in a letter coming to inform their parents that Marya has been invited (attendance is compulsory) to attend the Dragomir Academy for Troubled Girls where she will stay for the next six years, until she is eighteen.

When she gets there she discovers that she will receive an education including being taught to read (though she has already been taught by a friend) but there are lots of rules and regulations that the girls are expected to follow in the hopes of getting a good placement such as looking after a sorcerer's library. Like a lot of the other girls Marya has difficulty repressing her 'troublesome' instincts so they are often punished, as a whole class, if just one girl breaks the rules.

She feels that there is a mystery behind the creation of the Academy so she and her friend Elana set out to discover what it is. Gradually the girls realise that not all is as it seems at Dragomir - nor in the kingdom of Illyria - and maybe they should be questioning more and not just accepting what they're told.

I like the cover of the book, with the clouds of the Dread swirling around the towers of the school. (Oddly, though when Marya arrives she notices turrets sprouting off towers growing out of the school building, we don't see them on the inside, which is a shame.) And, may I say, I'm very glad that there is a map of the continent at the beginning of the book. (I wondered if the place names 'Torak' and 'Kel' were a nod to The Belgariad.)

I thought this was quite a gentle story though I did get wrapped up in the adventure. At one point, I admit, when Marya had just decoded the history of the Academy and decided that people in authority (the people who are hiding things from the girls) needed to know, so she took it to the headmaster - I couldn't look; I had to put the book down in the middle of a chapter. But then I was desperate to find out what happened (reader's dilemma) and of course I came back to it. I think, though, it is perfectly gauged for its target audience (the protagonist is around twelve years old) and should get them thinking. Part of the message throughout this book is that girls and women are treated as secondary to boys and men, who are automatically assumed to be superior in Illyria. Ursu keeps showing us this without telling us outright but lets the reader work it out:
That is not to say that girls and women did not matter to Illyria: behind every great tapestry was a woman who wove it, just as behind every great sorcerer was a wife to tend to his domestic affairs, a governess to teach his children, a cook to warm his gullet, a maid to keep his fires lit.

And behind every boy who dreamed of being a sorcerer was a mother who raised him to be brave, noble, and kind. And perhaps that boy even had a sister, who, right before the Council for the Magical Protection of Illyria finally visited his humble home to test him for a magical gift, made sure the chicken coop was spotless.
This is right at the beginning of chapter one, and introduces us to Marya as she's making sure that the chicken coop is spotless for the Council's visit. Though the focus is Marya's story, I liked the fact that she came to realise that behind her fighting with her brother there is genuine love and comradeship.

I could have been outraged at the difference in the way boys and girls were treated and brought up and the lengths that the men in power in Illyria go to to keep it that way in spite of the suffering it results in - but I think Ursu takes it a step further; she makes us think about why someone would be unwittingly complicit in being made to feel devalued and maybe, by doing so, gives young readers a chance to realise, if it is happening to them, that they can change it.

Everything is wrapped up satisfactorily (though the ending may have been a tad rushed - I was worried for a bit that I would have to look for a sequel to finish the story). I like the last lines of the book. I don't think it's a spoiler but, just in case, I'll hide them:
"We can do this," she said, eyes shining.

The other girls were grinning at her. They could do this. The Guild was still in power, the king still sat on his throne, but they could still remake the world.

There was more, so much more. ... They needed to tell their story in as many ways as they could. They needed to send letters, tell stories, weave, and embroider. They needed to tell the truth, to record it in a way that people would keep it. They were the troubled girls of Dragomir Academy - breaking, but never broken and they had stories to tell.

(April 2024)
… (mere)
humouress | 14 andre anmeldelser | Apr 17, 2024 |
Ghosts and girlhood and chronic illness.
mutantpudding | 10 andre anmeldelser | Mar 10, 2024 |
*well-written book with a captivating storyline
*easy to read and kept my interest from cover to cover
*great character development
*highly recommend
BridgetteS | 10 andre anmeldelser | Mar 9, 2024 |
{stand alone; children's, fairytale retelling, magic, The Snow Queen, Hans Christian Anderson, fables, fairytales}(2011)

This was another book bullet for an author for me (LT members discussing other books of hers) but it might be one of those cases where I raised my expectations too high whereas if I had read it cold I'd have appreciated it more.

Hmm; I'm not quite sure what to think about this one. It was a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen and (though I haven't read it in quite a while) those elements were all there as I remembered them. The protagonists are Hazel (who is adopted and whose father has recently moved away from the family home) and her best friend Jack (whose mother seems to be suffering from depression), both in the fifth grade at their local elementary school. Both very real children who connect with each other as with no-one else because they both have wonderfully active imaginations (Hazel's parents came to get her in a rocket ship, for example) and no-one else seems to willing or able to live in the same worlds as they do.

I liked Hazel's mum; she's obviously in a difficult situation and also doing her best to understand and help Hazel. I suppose I'm at that point in my life that, though I can see the magic, I empathise with parents - but I felt that maybe I was therefore on the 'other side' from Hazel and Jack which made me feel vaguely guilty (scratchy?) while reading this story.

The story is told in the third person from Hazel's point of view. She doesn't feel as though she fits in, especially as she's recently had to transfer from a more permissive school, but Jack is her best friend and next door neighbour though he's not in the same class. They have adventures in imaginary lands together and at school he plays with her at every recess - until something gets in his eye and he changes. And then he disappears because he's been whisked away by the Snow Queen. Hazel, with her vivid imagination, is the only one who can see through the magic and rescue him but first she has to navigate through the woods (which are not the woods of her Minnesota town) to the Snow Queen's palace.
Hazel stepped into the woods gingerly, expecting to land in a thick cushion of snow. So she stumbled when her foot went all the way to solid ground. It was not winter in the woods—at least in these woods.
As she goes through the woods she encounters familiar (to us) folk tales and fairy tales but as she goes further they become twisted away from the ones that we're used to. (Maybe these were the 'breadcrumbs'? As Hazel noted, there weren't any others):
Hazel watched the face of the compass as the needle wavered slightly, as if afraid to make too firm a commitment. But it was pointing roughly the way she was heading. Hazel was going north. Her heart lifted a little. This might be a magic woods, but there was still a north here. It was a place, like any other. The compass would guide her to Jack, and then guide her home. Who needed breadcrumbs?
She had a compass. She had a direction. She had a path. She knew where north was. So Hazel stepped on the path and headed forward.
And that was the point at which I got confused. Was it supposed to be familiar or sunder expectations? And if the second, was it supposed to be scary? Given that it's a children's book, probably not - but I felt that I was missing something, maybe an allegory, and I couldn't work out what. I felt that the ending resolved some things (and it looks like Hazel is starting to make other friends) but left a lot of questions open.

(February 2024)
3-3.5 stars
… (mere)
humouress | 75 andre anmeldelser | Mar 2, 2024 |



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