Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo

A very unusual take on the age old Cinderella fairy tale, Ash looks at tradition, family, magic and fairies from a very different view point. Ash’s mother is a village wise woman, who dies and leaves her daughter behind in a time when wise women have fallen into disrepute in favour of university learning and science.

When her father remarries and then dies deeply in debt, Ash’s new family (Stepmother and two Stepsisters) expect her to pay his debts through hard labour in the ashes of the kitchen and as their personal maid / housekeeper / cook.

In this world the fairies still live in the woods, and the King’s Huntress holds a special place in society, steeped in tradition and esteem.

I was enthralled with this book, but sometimes found it hard to follow some of the social and historical references.

Dark Secrets by Elizabeth Chandler

Dark Secrets by Elizabeth Chandler

Dark Secrets by Elizabeth Chandler

This book contains 2 novellas about two girls who are haunted by the past  and destined to relive it. Legacy of Lies deals with Megan who is bundled of to stay with an uptight Grandmother she has nothing to do with in the ancestral home, where strange things begin to happen. Megan finds herself dealing with the secret past of her Grandmother’s sister and her lover. A past littered with dark mysterious and a mysterious death.

Don’t Tell sees Lauren returning  to the place where her mother drowned seven years before in an atempt to deal with her demons, only to find even more demons and mysteries waiting for her as as series of events seems to mimic the days leading up to her mother’s death.

In each story the characters are very sympathetic, trying to deal with their issues and the ghosts if past events and lives as best they can. The families in each story are largely disfunctional, but then most families are these days! And of course there is the obligatory romantic interest!

I enjoyed these stories and am interested in reading more of Elizabeth Chandlers work!

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

Lin Fox has a very unusual home life. Her father is a University Professor, her relationship with her mother is not really explored until the last pages of the book, her sister is either anorexic or bolemic and her baby brother gets looked after largely by his oldest sister.

Dr Oliver Fox is a charasmatic Professor of Medieval Studies, who drags his family off to Germany for a year in search of the Allerheiligen Glass, even though Lin is the only one in the family with even a smattering of German, and she is abou tot start her O levels. On the way to their new home, they discover and fail to report a body and things go seriously downhill from there as a series of deaths and attacks occur, each marked by shards of broken glass.

The Allerheiligen Glass are rumoured to be haunted by a demon and given the bizarre events of the book, I could almost believe it was true!

The main character, Lin is reasonably likeable, but tends to be very self absorbed (even for a teenager), headstrong and sarcastic. There are several possible bad guys, lots of drama and histrionics and not a lot of sensible parenting! Reasonably enjoyable… but not as gripping as I had hoped!

Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children by Jen Storer

Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children by Jen Storer

Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children by Jen Storer

This book is one of the novels shortlisted for Australian Children’s Book of the Year – Novel for younger readers by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. I read this book because of that, however I think I would have picked it up anyway, as I had already looked at it in the bookshops.

Several of my Year 4 students also read the book and they seemed much more enarmoured with the book than I was. I really struggled with the first half of the book, but couldn’t really put into words why I found the going so hard. The characters didn’t capture me straight away, even though I love the concept of guardian angels and destiny.

A baby Tensy Farlow is left on the doorstep of the Home for Mislaid Children, but is picked up by mistake by Albie Gribble as part of his usual laundry pick up run. The problem is that we are all born with a guardian angel assigned to watch over us… all that is except Tensy Farlow. When Albie suffers a car accident and she is thrown into the local river (which just happens to be haunted by evil spirits) the powers of evil become aware of her and begin to hunt her down for possession of her soul.

There are a couple of evil characters in this story and they are very well done, however I found the characters for good are harder to believe in. a very interesting read and worth the effort once it gets going!

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

I bought this book online ages age, as it wasn’t available here in Australia and I had read so many great reviews. Despite the fact that I couldn’t wait to read it, I mad myself wait and the book was well and truly worth the wait!

Samantha Kingston finds herself in an unusual situation. One of the ‘popular’ girls in high school, she and her friends spend their time talking boys, clothes and not being overly serious about anything much except where they stand in the social pecking order, who is who’s boyfriend and getting their own way about practically everything. Then she dies. Only the next morning when she wakes up – it’s the same day all over again! Groundhog day for teenagers.

The book confronts many issues facing teenagers today, including bullying, sex, drugs, alcohol, parties and the social structure of coolness! Slowly, day by day, death by death, Samantha faces up to the reality of her life and the consequences of her and her friends’ actions, the impact they have on others and themselves. At the end of each day she dies, only to awaken the next morning to the same day again. Each day she tackle a different aspect of her life.

Very deep stuff and very well handled! The characters are very empathetic and as the story unfolds, you see them as real people with complex reasons and flaws behind everything that happens. Highly recommend this book for young adults!

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

I read this book after reading one of Richelle Mead’s adult books, Succubus Blues. I much preferred this one! I can see why she has gone on to write a long series of Vampire Academy novels. The characters are believable and flawed, making them strangely human, despite the fact that they are anything but!

Lissa is a Moroi princess (mortal vampire) and Rose is her friend and guardian. They have been on the run from the Academy for two years, but have now been caught and returned to face the music, the politics and the twisted social atmosphere of a boarding school with vampire royalty, ex lovers and outcasts…

Loved this!

Just a few adult books thrown in for good measure!

I am finding more and more that I don’t enjoy adult books as much… I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading very complex or demanding books. I do read some occasionally, but as my main love is fantasy – some of them aren’t quite so complex or demanding!

For the purposes of this blog – which is largely dedicated to Children’s Literature – I’ll just make a few quick statements about the adult books I have been reading…

A Girl’s Guide to Vampires by Katie McAllister

I found this book q bit irritating at first, trying too hard to be clever, but eventually got into the spirit of things and by about half way – quite enjoyed the story! If you like quirky humour with a bit of bite and a wise cracking heroine who doesn’t always make sense, but her side kick makes even less sense – go for it!

Blameless by Gail Carriger

I eagerly awaited this novel – the sequel to Soulless and Changeless – and was not disappointed! Alexia Tarabotti has got herself into quite a fix and it takes a lot of dashing about with derigables, ornithopters and clockwork ladybugs, with a touch of panache and swashbuckling parasols to get her through her latest adventure!

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

I have developed a particular fondness for Patricia Briggs’ werewolves and this book, while not a Mercedes Thompson novel, contains many of the same characters and I loved it!!! So of course I went out and got the next book:

Hunting Ground by Patricia Briggs

Charles and Anna, Alpha and Omega wolves fight for their survival against witches, vampires, other werewolves and of course the Fae!

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs

Just to make my holidays complete – I found the latest Mercedes Thompson novel (in hard cover)! Love this one too!

Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Weres, dark hunters and a touch of mythology thrown in for good measure. Enjoyable, but I won’t be rushing out to read more of the series!

Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

I quite enjoyed this journey to the dark side. Demons, succubus, vampires… the main character is feisty and quick tongued, but I found her a bit annoying after a while.

Midnight’s Daughter by Karen Chance

Fast paced and action packed, the main character is conflicted and deadly. Through in a family which includes Dracula out for revenge after years stuck in a prison and a gorgeous master vampire as a reluctant romantic interest… I enjoyed this book, but found it very stressful to read!

Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

In a world where the Supreme Court has granted the undead equal rights, Anita Blake hunts down the ghosts ghouls and vampires who break the rules. Lots of blood, gore and politics in this one. Not convinced enough to read another in the series though!

The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn

I have to say I enjoyed her Lady Julia Grey books much more, but this romp through the depths of Rumania and the Carpathian mountains, with it’s traditions of vampires and the walking dead, was still very enjoyable!

Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer

The joys of being a teenage vampire, especially one who is born a vampire, not ‘created’ and whose parents (one vampire and one human) died in a mysterious fire leaving him in the custody of his ‘Aunt’ who is not a vampire!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The need to be ‘normal’ in front of his friends, while still feeding on blood and yet the desire to find out more about himself and his family’s past before it can catch up with him and kill him make for entertaining reading! Vladimir Todd attends school like any other kid. He can’t go outside without his special heavy duty sunscreen. He needs to drink blood, but has never tasted it fresh from the source! He thinks he is the last vampire left on earth and has a fascination for old vampire movies. He struggles to deal with bullies who victimise him any chance they can! And don’t get him started on girls!

Then his English teacher goes missing and the new substitute teacher is even less normal than he is! Vlad is made to write an assignment on vampires, the myths, the legends, the powers and the drawbacks…

Vlad is a likeable character who deals with his problems with an endearing mix of teenage logic and vampire magic thrown in.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex hall by Rachel Hawkins

I read this fairly recently ans was pleasantly surprised. The main character, Sophie Mercer is busted big time and sent off to  Hecate “Hex” Hall, a reform school  for witches, shapeshifters and faeries who are a danger to themselves and the people around them… especially in danger of revealing the existance of such things as witches, warlocks and vampires!

Predictably, the transition to boarding school for ‘monsters’ does not go smoothly. Once the fellow students find out who Sophie’s father is… and tell her, things get even worse!

The school itself is under a cloud as first one, then another student turns up dead or almost, with most of their blood drained! The work of the resident vampire – or is it? And of course a bit of unrequited love and jealousy doesn’t go astray!

I love the characters in this book. Sophie is no angel, but she is likable and feisty without being obnoxious. Her friendship with Jenna, the only vampire student is believable and entertaining, as well as central to several of the events and ideals behind the story.