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.
Teeth; Vampire Tales
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
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!
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.
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!
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.
A Great and Terribel Beauty
I had been eying this book off for ages, and finally found the time to read it a few months ago – I know – I’m slack for not writing it up earlier, but what can I say!!!
Beside the fact the author shares my surname (no relation that I know of) I am a sucker for magic and mayhem, especially with a touch of the Gothic. Perhaps because I had been anticipating it so much, I found myself getting frustrated with the characters. At some points, all I wanted to do was slap the characters up the side of the head and tell them to wake up!!!
Gemma Doyle is as good as orphaned. Her mother dies under mysterious circumstances in India. Her father is almost comatose with grief and drugs. Her Grandmother and brother are less than sympathetic and pack her off to boarding school with strict instructions to behave in a ladylike manner. The school is dismal and, if possible, even less sympathetic than her family. Just about every character in the book has a secret to hide and an agenda of their own.
Gemma herself runs hot and cold. On one hand she sticks up for her room mate who is less than beautiful and therefore much put upon by the ‘in’ crowd led by Felicity. In the next breath she falls in with Felicity and follows her faithfully into many misadventures and eventually disaster.
Through it all runs a thread of mystery and past magic as Gemma suffers from sudden visions and follows her strange insights to explore the history of the burnt out shell of the school’s East Wing through her discovery of the diary of young Mary Dowd. Ancient magic is invoked. Old secrets are uncovered and secret cults exposed… all in the pursuit of happiness through beauty – which in the late 1800s, when the book is set, was all a young lady could aspire to.
I enjoyed the book to a point, but doubt that I will read any of the sequels.