A beautiful summer of books…

I have read so many books since I last posted… especially over the last month or so while I have been on ‘summer holidays’.

I do not have the time, or the phenomenal amount of energy necessary to review all of the books in detail – so I’ll list most of them, review some and only go into detail about a few! Here goes:

  • Misfit by Jon Skovron
Jael has never fit in – but then she has never stayed in one place long enough to make a serious attempt. Her father is an ex-priest with trust issues. Her mother died when she was very young. This time things are different though – perhaps she will be able to stay here for longer than a year! As her 16th birthday arrives, Jael must face up to her destiny and come to terms with her new and potentially devastating powers… with the help of her uncle (a five thousand year old demon) and the cute skater boy who wants to date her…
Really enjoyed this one! Maybe I spent too many years at Catholic School – but I found the characters likeable and enjoyed the action sequences!
  • The Lunar Chronicles : Cinder by Marissa Meyer
At first I thought this would be a Steam Punk novel based on the Cinderella fairytale. It isn’t. It is a science fiction novel based on Cinderella with some very interesting twists. Set in the future, after World War IV has totally rearranged the world and the moon, Cinder is a cyborg (mostly human but part machine) who earns her way by working as a mechanic and giving all the proceeds to her mean and nasty (but not necessarily wicked) stepmother. The empire, based in New Beijing, is being devastated by the Letumosis Plague. As the old Emperor dies of the plague, after years of frantic research fails to find a cure, his son, Prince Kai finds himself desperately holding of the political machinations of Queen Lavana, the ruler of Lunar. As Kai and Cinder’s stories collide and entwine through their personal experiences with the plague, the plot thickens as the plague originates from Lunar and Queen Levana uses her personal magic (bioelectricity) to enthrall the people as she attempts to take over the Empire and eventually, the world!!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book – loved the idea (I have a soft spot for re-told fairytales), and the characters who though not perfect, show strength and humour as they battle their personal demons and try to do what is right for the greater good!
  • Legend by Marie Lu
I actually read this one to review it for Penguin, my review will hopefully be included on their blog in January/February! I’ll twitter the link if they do!
  • Daughters of Saraqael : Becoming by Raine Thomas
  • Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Red Handed by Gena Sholwater
  • 13 to Life by Shannon Delany
  • Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Hereafter by Tara Hudson
  • Moonlight by Rachel Hawthorne
  • My Sould to Take by Rachel Vincent
  •  The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
Not the series recommended to me by one of my students, (Isabel recommended the Darkest Powers series by the same author), but I thoroughly enjoyed this shape shifting / Native American Indian fantasy for young adults! The second book in the series, The Calling is due out in the USA in April.
  • Darke Academy : Secret Lives by Gabrielle Poole
Not a bad take on the Boarding School / scholarship kid who doesn’t belong / some supernatural evil and general teenage drama…
  • Swoon by Nina Malkin
Ghost bad boy set on revenge… misfit adolescent girl with some witchy abilities thrown in…
  • Through her eyes by Jennifer Archer
More ghosts, but really enjoyable ideas for this one – big city girl, out of place in a small Texan town, taking photos to stay sane. She is being haunted by a ghost that at first she can only see through the lens of her camera, but he is becoming more and more real!
  • Emily the Strange : the Lost Days by Rob Reger and Buzz Parker
I have a many requests for this recently at work – thought I better read it before putting it in the Library… thoroughly enjoyed this, but not for younger students and the writing can be left of centre.
  • Demon Trappers Daughter by Jana Oliver
Demons are not easy, Demon trapping is even more so when your father gets killed and the demons are out to get you!
  • The Mortal Instruments : City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • The Mortal Instruments : City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Demon Hunters, Vampires, Werewolves, magic and mayhem… What’s not to love about this Urban Fantasy?!
  • The Walker Papers : Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy
Native American Indian shamanism meets Celtic legend in the form of the Wild Hunt!
  • Don’t kill the messenger by Eileen Rendahl
Feisty protagonist – vampires – werewolves… someone has to be the messenger!
  • Room by Emma Donoghue
Not for the faint hearted – I read this one for Book Club… the story of a kidnap and rape victim who is kept in a small shed in the back garden, told from the point of view of her 5 year old son, also held captive in the shed…
  • Dark Secrets 3 : The Back Door of Midnight by Elizabeth Chandler
I tend to enjoy Elizabeth Chandler’s ghost stories with a supernatural twit – and this one was no exception!
  • The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Caught up in the Jack the Ripper returns frenzy when she attends her new boarding school in London, Rory Deveaux from the bayous of Louisiana is way out of her depth, when she can see the ghost who is impersonating the Ripper…
  • The Apothecary by Maile Meloy
Another American attending school in London, this time set in the 50s with Janie stumbling into the intrigue surrounding the disappearance of her new friend Benjamin’s father – the Apothecary! Magic and mystery surround his activities as the Russians and German spies chase Janie and Benjamin across London and even over the sea to Greenland!
If you are interested in any of the books I haven’t commented on or reviewed – please feel free to post a comment or ask a question!!!

Bones of Fairy by Janni Lee Simmer

Bones of Faerie

Bones of Faerie

Liza lives with her father in a village surrounded by restless and often deadly forest. The corn can turn viscous. Vines and trees can capture and imprison you and shadows are no longer safe. Life in the village is lived by very strict rules – all things magic are destroyed – even her own baby sister, born with faerie-pale hair, is left out on a hillside to die. Then Liza’s mother disappears and she is at the mercy of her cruel and rigid father as her own gifts and magic begin to manifest. She cannot stay – but can she survive to find her mother and a chance to heal not only her own world, but Faerie as well?

With help from Matthew, who shape shifts into a wolf, Allie, a young healer and Tallow her old cat, Liza travels the dangerous wilds and battles her gifts and a world gone crazy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Great for middle to older Primary aged children, even younger Secondary students would find the story very readable and relate to the themes and ideas of friendship, family, trust and loyalty.

Short Story Collections edited by Ellen Datlow

Teeth; Vampire Tales

Teeth

Teeth

A collection of short stories by some very amazing authors, including Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman and Melissa Marr – all with the theme of Vampires…

Some stories I enjoyed, but I think most of the stories struggled to give a new view of vampires, explaining the history and culture behind the stories and have credible and empathetic characters that the reader can relate to. Short stories are not easy, but when the author is trying to breath new life into an otherwise over exposed theme – their job is even harder!

Some stories were great, and some of my favourite fantasy and young adult authors are represented, but not all of the stories held my attention, or captured my imagination.

Naked City; Tales of Urban Fantasy

Naked City

Naked City

Urban Fantasy is just another name for paranormal or supernatural fantasy. Vampires. Werewolves. Witches…

Some great authors with a few favourite characters/worlds revisited… Jim Butcher (Harry Dresden – Wizard for Hire), Patricia Briggs, Melissa Marr, Holly Black…

Not quite what I expected, this collection of short stories mostly hit the mark! Again, short stories can be hard to sell – not enough time to fully explore the themes and concepts behind the worlds or assumptions, let alone the characters involved. You know that the story is good when you want to know more!

Lonesome Howl by Steven Herrick

Lonesome Howl

Lonesome Howl

Two Aussie bush kids. One legend. Two very different families. One adventure. Told in verse, this is the story of two young teens, Lucy and Jake. Lucy is caught in an unhappy home with a violent and cruel father. Jake lives in a happy home where his father is obsessed with the wolf he saw as a young man.

Then the night time howls begin, unsettling the fragile balance of the two families. Jake and Lucy set out to find the ‘wolf’ – Lucy as a means to escape and Jake to end the obsession one way or the other. Of course in the Australian bush, nothing ever goes as planned and Jake and Lucy find themselves having to change their personal plans for the sake of the other – finding unexpected allies and a growing friendship that neither had considered.

I love Steven Herrick’s work – and this no exception. No werewolves – nothing overtly supernatural, except perhaps the presence of the ghost of a wolf in the Australian bush – just a good story about friendship, family, loss and love.

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

forever

forever

I loved the first two books and I loved this one!!! Being a human in wolf skin is not easy and Grace shows us as she struggles to become and remain human long enough to find Sam. As a wolf she has found the pack and established a place under the protection of it’s leader, however she does not have any control over her form and often finds herself naked and shivering in strange places as the pack travels and she follows.

Eventually the changes stay for longer and Sam manages to find her and bring her home. But the problems they face are not that simple. Isabel’s father, the rich and influential Thomas Culpepper, is trying to get a new bill through allowing them to hunt and destroy the wolves using helicopters and any other means he can lay his hands on. Cole is still experimenting on ways to trigger the change , reverse the change and generally stop the change. Sam is feeling less and less sure of himself and after another encounter with the police, at a loss of how best to proceed, to rescue the wolves and save Grace and make a future for them!

I know this is the end of the series… but…

Witches of the East by Melissa de la Cruz

Witches of the East

Witches of the East

The Beauchamp women, Joanna and her daughters, Freya and Ingrid, loosely represent the three faces of witches or wise-women through the ages – the the hag with warts kind, but the different realms of power – love, healing and motherhood. They have lived among us for centuries, hiding their gifts and slowly diminishing as our beliefs and practices strayed further from their origins.

After becoming engaged to one brother only to stray into the arms of the other, Freya begins to use her magic to assist the lovelorn of the small Hampshire town the family lives in, creating cocktails with an extra kick! When no harm seems to arise, Ingrid and finally Joanna begin to also use their magic with often amazing results… amid rumours of witchcraft, people go missing and bodies turn up, leading to threatened exposure and persecution…

I bought and read this book because I had so enjoyed Melissa de la Cruz’ earlier books in the Blue Bloods series. Although one of the characters from that series does make a brief appearance int his book, I did not enjoy the book as much as the others. More of an adult offering than the other books, I did not find the main characters as endearing and struggled to finish the book.

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

The Other Countess

The Other Countess

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the young Earl of Dorset had no choice but to court an heiress to be his wife, given the ruin bought to his family by his father’s unfortunate love of Alchemy and patronage of Sir Arthur Hutton. Upon his father’s death, Will Lacey sent the alchemist and his daughter packing. Lady Eleanor Rodriguez of San Jaime had little choice but to follow her father from lodging to barn until four years later when he found patronage in the person of Lord Mountjoy.

Will Lacey has come to Windsor in search of an heiress. Instead he meets Ellie, the Lady Eleanor and begins a mild flirtation, never expecting that she would be the daughter of his arch nemesis, or that he would fall in love with her bravery and wit. Many trials stand in their way, not least of which is his betrothal to Lady Jane, the capturing of a Catholic Priest which throws doubt onto Ellie and her father’s loyalty to the crown, her father’s explosive death…

The path to true love is strewn with obstacles – and Will and Ellie’s journey is no exception!!!

A very entertaining tale. Well written and an interesting take on the characters and customs of Elizabethan England. Quite a few well known figures cross the paths of our main characters, adding extra interest when viewed from the perspective of star crossed love!

Suitable for teens with some hints at not so chaste behaviour, but no explicit scenes beyond the occasional kiss! Girls who like historical fiction will love this! Very enjoyable.

Some other books I have read…

Over the last year, I have actually done a lot of reading, but have not managed to post about all the books I have read… here are a few of them with very brief comments:

  • The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas

An interesting character – very vague seeming and often distracted, but logical in a weird and unnatural way! Thinking outside the square (or in this case – the circle)! Enjoyable but strange!

  • Mortlock by Jon Mayhew

Magic, curses, shapeshifters, the dead rising… Young Adolescent Horror (but not really THAT scary)!

  • Magic Under the Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Two young people meet, but one is under enchantment/curse and imprisoned in a clockwork body while the other is a young dancer who took a chance on a job with some very magical results. They must challenge society to remove the curse! A good read for younger Secondary and Upper Primary students.

  • My Love Lies Bleeding by Alyxandra Harvey

Vampire society is not what you think. There is a definite hierarchy with a mad woman at the top and human hunters attacking from the edge. This particular vampire family has an unusual ally in Lucy and an even more unusual daughter in Solange – who was born, not made – leading to all sorts of political and romantic mayhem! An easy read and enjoyable.

  • Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Book 1 in the Morganville Vampires series. Morganville is secretly run by vampires. Claire Danvers is a new College student who in an attempt to escape bullying, stumbles onto not only the truth, but an unusual house (and it’s occupants) which stands slightly outside of the rules! Enjoyable, but I don’t think I will worry about the rest of the series.

  • By Midnight by Mia James

April Dunne is forced to move to Highgate and attend a new school called Ravenwood. Of course all is not as it seems. Two hot boys vie for her attention. One could get her killed. The other could get her killed or save her – she is not sure which, especially after her father is brutally murdered and she becomes more familiar with her mother’s side of the family! Enjoyable.

  • The Keepers by Lian Tanner

Dystopian Worlds for Children and Young Adults. Goldie Roth does not fit into her world, and when she runs away and ends up at the mysterious Museum of Dunt she becomes involved in a world of secrets, threats and magic! Everything is not a s it seems and eventually
Goldie and her new friend, Toad, must stand up not just for themselves and the museum, but all of their loved ones as well! Great book!

  • Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

Werewolves are real, but they are not bitten and they are not horrific slathering monsters. Hanover Falls begins to panic as people suddenly start dying, however as she reaches her sixteenth birthday, Claire discovers her mother’s secret and her own life changes irrevocably. Can she keep her secret, fall in love with the boy and save her mother from capture, torture and eventual death?! Loved this!

  • Wolfborn by Sue Bursztynski

In a medieval Europe the sons of feudal lords train as knights. Etienne is sent to Lucanne to train with Lord Geraint, but soon discovers that Geraint is bisclavret – a born werewolf. When Geraint’s enemies take advantage of his disillusioned wife and attack, Etienne must decide where his loyalties lay – and face up to his own secrets as well! Good book for Upper Primary / Junior Secondary students.

  • Meridian by Amber Kizer

Meridian has always been different. Things tend to die around her… insects, animals and now people! In a desperate bid to protect their daughter, Meridian’s parents send her to stay with her great aunt, where she learns that she is only half human, half angel and it is her responsibility to help the dying pass over… but there are those who would stop her and enslave her for evil if they could… An okay book – I found the characters annoying – often whiny!

  • Shadow – A Dark Touch Novel by Amy Meredith

Eve Evergold is shallow and egotistical. Her life revolves around clothes and gossip. Yet somehow she has supernatural powers and is the only one who can identify and stop the demon who is trying to kill her… but what if he is really cute and a great dresser? Didn’t really enjoy this one!

  • Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Micah Williams is a habitual liar. This is her retelling of the events surrounding the death of her boyfriend, Zach… or was he? And just where does the family secret fit in? Is she really the latest in a family of werewolves?This book kept me guessing right up to and after the end! I’m still not sure where the truth starts and the lies end! Great Book!

  • White Cat by Holly Black

Cassel is not your average anything. His family are magic workers, which is illegal and spend their lives on the grift – working cons to live. Cassel is the only one who can’t do magic, or is he? and just what kind of magic can he do? Loved this!

  • Revelations / The Van Allen Legacy by Melissa de la Cruz

Two more of the Blue Bloods series… vampire elite in New York city – Blue Blood or Silver Blood? I’m not enjoying the series as much as I did the earlier books!

  • Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Bryn is not a werewolf. She has been raised by werewolves, after the death of her parents, and is fully aware of their laws and customs. When she breaks those laws to find Chase, a newly changed werewolf, she must pay the consequences. When she challenges the pack and runs away with Chase to confront his make… is she really defying them? Enjoyable read!

  • The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Fairies rule! And when Meghan  turns that magical age – sixteen, she must follow her destiny, confront the father she never knew and journey into strange and dangerous fairy realms to confront evil and save a young Prince… Enjoyable!!!

  • Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish

Before the dawn of time, there was evil. As the world developed and evolved, so did the evil. Now it is Savannah’s newly awakened powers that must save not only herself, but her family and new boy Reece. Savannah’s powers are based in her throat and are a new evolution or mutation as nature struggles to combat the evil. Struggled a bit with this one!

  • The Boy Who Wasn’t There by Michael Panckridge

Gabrielle has no memory of her past. She doesn’t know who she is, or where she comes from. She does know that there is something strange happening at her new foster home. Who is the strange boy she keeps seeing? Why do strange and awful things keep happening to her? Does she have a gift, or is she cursed? Good for Mid to Upper Primary.

  • The Secret Hour by Scott  Westerfeld

At midnight, most people are sound asleep or unconscious in the town of Bixby. New girl, Jessica should be too, but she isn’t, and the world she find outside at midnight is definitely not for the faint hearted! Can she and her new friends, especially Johnathan get to the bottom of the disturbances before the whole town becomes a victim? Enjoyable – I love this author!

  • Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Evie considers herself to be normal – or as normal as you can be when you are a secret agent who chases werewolves, vampires, faeries and shapeshifters for a living and live in a bunker surrounded by paranormal beings. When paranormals begin to die and disappear and then a young shapeshifter called Lend is captured… Evie discovers a few hard truths about herself! Enjoyable!

  • Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Mercy is an angel, exiled from heaven and doomed to return to earth endlessly, each time in a new body, taking over someone else’s life. This time she is in Carmen’s life, waking up on a bus on the way to a ‘cultural exchange’ of choirs in a small town where things are not what they seem! Carmen is staying with the family of a young girl who went missing years before. Now another girl goes missing and it is up to Mercy and Ryan (the first missing girl’s brother) to piece together the facts. A great read for Secondary students. Deals with bullying and guilt issues.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner

Thomas arrives at The Glade with no memory of who he is or where he has come from, except his name.  The Glade is not a place for the faint hearted. Sitting in the middle of a huge maze and surrounded by massive stone walls, the Glade is inhabited by teenagers ranging from 13 – 17, who run their world to strict guidelines. Each boy has a job. The Keepers are in charge. The Runners run the Maze each day. No one stays out in the Maze at night. If you break the rules punishment is harsh and sometimes deadly!

Outside the Glade, the Maze is inhabited by the Grievers. Clanking, Grinding creatures who’w spongy flesh hides their viscous and deadly needles and appendages. No one stays out in the Glade at night! By the time Thomas has been in the Glade for a day, he knows he wants to be a runner. But then another adolescent arrives. The Next Day! And it’s a Girl!! Things are changing. This is not good, and somehow it is Thomas’ fault! Who is he really?

Very enjoyable book. The characters are believable and the vernacular they use instead of swearing is quite funny. All is not as it seems. Thomas is central, not just to the story, but to the Glad and the Maze and to the escape…

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Generation Dead

Generation Dead

Phoebe is your average adolescent… with a tendency to Goth clothing, loud music and top grades. She is also different because she is interested in a dead guy! All across America (but no the rest of the world), teenagers who die, do not necessarily stay dead! Many of them return as ‘Zombies’. Not the gross horror film version that eat brains and groan a lot, but as ‘Differently Biotic’ teenagers who, to varying degrees, return to their normal lives, attend school, enjoy music and have friends…

Zombies are not universally loved or accepted, but they are working to overcome that. Tommy Williams joins the Football team, much to the disgust of the coach and many of the bullies who are central to the team. Phoebe and her friend Adam are among the few who seem to be able to accept the ‘Dead’ for who they are, which puts them in conflict with those same bullies.

I enjoyed this book. Phoebe and Adam are great characters and thought Tommy can be a bit devoid of expression – he is dead so that must be excused! The book focuses on themes of friendship, individuality, bullying and guilt. A pretty hefty mix, but lightly dealt with and not too cumbersome!