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!!!

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.

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…

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent

Divergent

Imagine a world torn apart by war. One city in America still functions but all is not as it seems. Society has been divided into five Factions. Each Faction focuses on the traits and abilities they feel will best protect humanity from further war and destruction. Abnegation values selflessness and honour. Candor values truth. Erudite values knowledge. Dauntless values courage and bravery. Amity values happiness. All children are born into a faction and grow up according to those rules and beliefs. At 16, each adolescent is test using computers and a serum to determine which Faction they are best suited to. the next day, each adolescent is allowed to choose their future Faction for themselves. If they get past the Initiation period, they are then fully integrated into their new faction. If they do not pass initiation, they then become Factionless and live on the streets of the city doing menial tasks.

Breatice, who becomes Tris begins the story as Abnegation, but after her testing goes wrong and her results are inconclusive, she is deemed to be Divergent and urged to keep this information to herself as it is very dangerous! The next day she chooses Dauntless for her new Faction, much to her father’s disgust, and begins a whole new adventure!

But all is not as it seems. As Tris learns to jump on and off moving trains, fight, shoot guns and conquer fear, as well as earn the trust and love of her new friends (especially the young leader named Four), the government of her city is being challenged by an Erudite leader who uses the media for a smear campaign. Tris’ father is one of the targets. Eventually the challenge steps up a few notches and challenges not just the government, but the whole belief system of the Factions!

I love this book! The characters are very empathetic and the society is brilliantly drawn. The factions mirror many of the cliques and groups found within schools and society in general. This book is a Dystopian Fantasy. That means that it depicts a supposedly Utopian Society and then looks at it’s faults and how those faults impact on the lives and choices of the main protagonists! Very well done! I highly recommend this book!

The Parliament of Blood by Justin Richards

The Parliament of Blood

The Parliament of Blood

Set in Victorian England, this is not a Steampunk novel. It is an enjoyable and rollicking Vampire yarn with lots of death, damnation and politics thrown in!

There are four main characters, although none of them really captured me as the central character. Young Eddie is a street urchin who has been taken in by George who works for Sir William at the British Museum in the Department of Unclassified Artifacts and is friends with Liz who spends most of her days caring for her ailing father.

An Egyptian Mummy is unwrapped with disastrous results, although no one believes that the events of the evening were anything bu an elaborate hoax. As Eddie and George follow the trail of the runaway mummy, they find more and more links to the mysterious Damnation Club, an exclusive club boasting some of England’s top politicians, celebrities, scientists and engineers. As they become more entwined in the machinations of the Club, they find ancient curses come to life, feats of engineering designed to feed sleeping monsters and evil plans to take over England and thereby eventually rule the world!

I found the book enjoyable, but not enthralling. I wanted George to be more central and more aware. His relationship with Liz was almost non existent until almost the end of the book!

Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Low Red Moon

Low Red Moon

Avery has a large blank in her memory. She is not your average adolescent, having spent most of her life living outside town in the woods, being home schooled by her mother and learning just as much about the plants and animals around her as she did about book learning and school stuff. That all changed the night her parents were killed in front of her. Avery is not comfortable living at her Grandmother’s house in town. School is not so bad, but the nightmares involving flashes of silver, inhumanly fast and oceans of blood and tears.

Somehow the new boy, Ben, for whom she feels an instant connection, is involved and close to the puzzle of her parents murder – he is a werewolf, but he is also the victim of violence, where his whole family was wiped out by vigilantes. He understands her need to know the truth, but struggles with the connection and attraction they both feel and must learn to trust…

Avery is like a lost soul with a fair bit of angst and rebellion, but also vulnerable as she sees flashes and remembers bits of the night her parents died. The relationship between Avery and Ben is at times confusing – especially when it makes such a physical impression at first sight! Both want to trust each other and become increasingly obsessed with each other, but then they also constantly push each other away. Enjoyable but a tad confusing!

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Steampunk Chronicles #1.

Finley Jayne is a girl who is not quite comfortable in her own skin… especially in times of stress or danger!This is when her darker side with super human strength, speed and healing abilities takes over! Running from a disastrous (for him) encounter with the Lord of the Manor, Finley finds herself struck down by velocycle and waking up in the guest bedroom of the  Duke of Greythorne, Griffin King.

This turns out to be a good move, as Griffin King is not only one of the most powerful men in Victorian England, he is also heavily involved in the  investigation and exploration of events of a more supernatural bent! Also living at the Mayfair Estate of the Duke are Emily; a brilliant inventor and engineer, Sam; half man, half machine, Lady Marsden; a strong telepath and Jasper; an American who can move faster than any other man alive. All these strange and evolving abilities can be traced back to a series of experiments conducted by Griffin’s parents involving a new found compound called Organites, which enhance and accelerate healing… among other things!

Of course there is the bad guy, who is plotting to take over all of England and kill as many of the friends as he can in the process!

Steampunk is not a new phenomenon, however it is still reasonably rare. The books are set in the time of Victorian England, but involve an alternate reality where the Industrial Revolution has already occurred with several sidetracks along the way! This book is a fine example of Steampunk and very enjoyable!