25. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Short Stories

Trigger Warning: short fictions and disturbances by Neil Gaiman, 310 pages, read by Brian, on 02/24/2015

Neil Gaiman is possibly to best writer of today’s literature.  Everything he writes is magic.  Neil writes another beauty in Trigger Warning a group of short stories to amaze and wonder about.  It is worth reading.

 

25. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Black Wings by Christina Henry, 295 pages, read by Kira, on 02/24/2015

Madeline Black is an agent of Dblack wingseath, guiding souls to the door of the afterlife.  Shortly after she rents out the lower rooms in her house, to hot-looking Gabriel Angeloscuro, demons wanting to kill her start showing up near her house, including her evil half-brother Antares.  The author does some interesting world-building, building a genealogy of residents of heaven, but mostly hell.  I picked up this title on accidB0351_BlackWings_coverent, thinking it was another by Barb Hendee – both have call # HEN.  Enjoyable enough of a read, but I doubt I’ll continue the series.fantasy-and-gothic-pictures-girl-with-black-wings-and-blue-dress

24. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell, 332 pages, read by Angie, on 02/23/2015

Sand has a fight with his father so he runs away and makes an offering at a shrine. The next thing he knows he is waking up in the sundered castle. Thirty years ago something happened at the castle that caused everything from the walls to the last apple to split. The castle was then surrounded by an impenetrable wall of thorns. Sand has no idea how he got in the castle, but once there he decides to use his skills as a blacksmith to start fixing things. He fixes everything from doors to buckets to spoons. He even puts things back to rights in the crypt beneath the chapel. Sand spends weeks alone in the castle working and trying to find enough food to get by. Then a girl appears; she is the same girl he put to rights in the crypt. Seems that Perrotte has been mended as well. She was once the daughter of the castle before she was murdered by her stepmother. Once Perrotte and Sand get past their surprise at the new circumstances, Perrotte helps Sand with the mending of the castle. They notice that the more they mend the lower the wall of thorns becomes. They are determined to find a way out of the castle and back to their lives.

This is a magical fairy tale with a twist. I really enjoyed Sand and Perrotte and how their relationship develops. Perrotte goes from being a snobby lady who looks down on humble Sand, to a warm human being who considers Sand her best friend and protector. I liked the discovery of Sand’s magic and why it came to be. I also enjoyed Perrotte’s tragic story of her past and how she came back to life. The one thing I thought was rushed was the ending though. We spend the majority of the book in the castle with Sand and Perrotte as they are working together and rebuilding the castle. Then in the last few chapters Perrotte’s stepmother comes with her army; then a peace is established; then they leave the castle. It is all very hurried and didn’t seem to fit the pace of the rest of the book. But as this is a fairy tale everyone lives happily ever after and all is well.

24. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye, Keith Thompson (Illustrations), 240 pages, read by Angie, on 02/23/2015

Tobias and Charlotte play one too many tricks on their nanny which causes their father to have to take action. He dumps them in front of Witherwood Reform School and leaves them. Witherwood is not like other schools. They seem to already know who Tobias and Charlotte are and there are many mysteries surrounding the school including its staff and students. It was built on top a mesa that was created by a meteor impact. The school has dangerous guardians on the grounds who attack intruders. The head of the school Mr. Withers has a hypnotic voice that causes the students to accept their place at the school with joy and contentment. Tobias and Charlotte want nothing more than to leave the evil school, but are soon under its spell like the other students.

This is a quirky, quirky book. Tobias and Charlotte seem like normal kids but they find themselves in anything but normal situations. Everything just keeps getting stranger and stranger the more you read of this book. This is the beginning of a series and the book reads more like a set up for that series than a series opener. There is no resolution of any kind at the end of the book and the reader is left with way more questions about what is going on then they like. Witherwood is bizarre to say the least and we don’t find out why or what purpose it is serving. I think my enjoyment of the book dipped a lot when I realized there was no good ending. The kids are in much the same position they were at the beginning of the book. I wanted more answers and don’t like the fact that I will have to wait until the next book to get them. Not sure I am interested enough to wait however.

I received this book from Netgalley.

20. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Dragon Rule: Book Five of the Age of Fire by E.E. Knight, 368 pages, read by Kira, on 02/17/2015

Dragon-Rule-E-E-Knight-Paperback13-lgeThis book in the series weaves the three sibling dragons more closely together.  Auron accepts a “protectorate” within Naff’s kingdom.  Wistala acts as queen consort, since Nilrasha lost her wings (in battle in the previous book).  There is far more politics in this book than in the others (which I personally do not enjoy).  Plus ome of the political machinations left me
grousing for example “come on, its obvious who tried to assassinate you!!”  The ending is a little bleaker than other volumes – to be fair, this title has been described as a bridge book.

The best part of the book was the minor twist at the very end of the book.


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19. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks, Sarah Watts (Illustrations), 320 pages, read by Angie, on 02/18/2015

Birdie is the bogler’s apprentice. She helps Alfred the bogler by luring bogles out into the open with her singing and then Alfred kills them. Bogles are monsters who like to eat children so it takes a child to lure them out. Alfred and Birdie help all kinds of people throughout Victorian London. Birdie loves what she does even if she is sometimes afraid. Alfred and Birdie don’t have a lot but they have a room and food and each other. One day they are hired by Mrs. Eames who wants to learn more about bogles. She is a scholar and is appalled that Alfred puts Birdie’s life in danger. She keeps sticking her nose in and offering all kinds of suggestions on their work. Birdie and Alfred don’t really appreciate her help until they discover Dr. Morton. Dr. Morton wants to summon bogles and gain control over them. He has been sacrificing children to obtain his demon bogle. When our heroes interfere in his plans he comes after them. Birdie, Alfred, Mrs. Eames and their friends must work together to stop the evil Dr. Morton.

I really enjoyed this book, but I am not sure I will read the rest of the series. I liked the uniqueness of the story and the characters. Birdie and Alfred were fantastic. Victorian London is sometimes a hard sell with young readers and there is a bit of vocabulary in this book that could be challenging to that age group. However, if they stick with it I think they will enjoy it.

18. February 2015 · 2 comments · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop, 416 pages, read by Angie, on 02/13/2015

The cassandra sangue have been freed from the men who controlled them. They have been sent to live among the Inuits and the Simple Life Folk, but they are not adjusting as well as Meg has adjusted to life in the Courtyard. The Humans First and Last movement is still gaining support and causing even more trouble for the Others and the humans who work with and support them. Meg is trying to control her urge to cut and to find a way to help the other blood prophets survive on their own. Simon and the Others in the Courtyard are trying to find a way to protect their human pack and to put a stop to the machinations of the HFL.

I love this series. I think Anne Bishop is a master storyteller that just gets better the more she writes about her characters. The world of the Others is fantastic and unique and comes to the forefront in this book. We learn more about the Others outside of the Courtyards and just how much power they actually yield. The humans don’t seem to realize that they are are not the first to rebel against the rule of the Others and they will not be the last. To the Others in the Wild Country they are just insignificant creatures to be crushed when they become a nuisance. The only thing I don’t like about this series is waiting until the next book comes out.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Steam-punk

Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann, Janet K. Lee (Illustrations), 128 pages, read by Angie, on 02/11/2015

Time has stopped in Anorev. Everyone is either a robot or a child; there are no adults. There is no night or bedtime or chores or anything one would expect. Then 312 Dapper Men descend from the sky. They are here to set things right and to restart time. One of the Dapper Men enlists the help of a boy named Ayden and a robot girl named Zoe. They need to do something with the robot angel in the harbor in order to make things they way they should be. I actually wanted more from this story than I got. There isn’t a lot of explanation as to why time stopped, what happened to the adults, who the Dapper Men are, etc. The story itself is pretty sparse. The artwork is gorgeous however. It brings life to the story where the words do not. This is an interesting steampunk fairy tale fantasy but just needed a bit more.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston, 312 pages, read by Angie, on 02/11/2015

Owen Thorskard comes from a long line of dragon slayers dating back to the Vikings. His aunt Lottie is one of the most famous dragon slayers of modern times. After Lottie is hurt battling a dragon the family moves to the rural Canadian town of Trondheim, which is thrilled to get its very own family of dragon slayers. Owen’s father, Aodhan, takes on the duties of protecting the area while Lottie and her wife Hannah train Owen. Siobhan McQuaid meets Owen his first day of school when they are both late for English. She is a musician and is soon asked to become Owen’s bard. Turns out dragon slayers used to always have a bard to tell the tales of their heroics. But modern dragon slayers are all corporate or military and the charm of the profession is no more. Lottie and Aodhan want to bring back the traditional role of dragon slayers and they want to start with Owen. Siobhan and Owen train together and Siobhan learns more than how to fight. Turns out the dragons are moving into the area in larger and larger numbers and the fear is a new hatching ground has been established. They have to find a way to stop the dragons before their area becomes just another Michigan.

I loved this book! I had never heard of it until it became one of the sixteen contenders for School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books. I am so glad I was introduced to it. It is such a fun story. It is an alternative history where dragons do exist and they feed on carbon. So as the world became more and more industrialized more and more dragons appeared. I loved all the little details we learned about the world like the fact that Michigan had to be abandoned because the auto industry drew so much dragon attention it was overrun or like the fact that Queen Victoria was the only non-dragon slayer to be inducted into the Order of St. George for moving a hatching ground and enabling travel between England and Scotland. There were lots of little things like that that made the story even more charming. But the true star of this book was Siobhan. She narrates The Story of Owen in such a charming and humorous way. Through her we learn more about the world, the history of dragons, music and dragon slaying. I also really loved that there were no romantic feelings between Owen and Siobhan. They are friends and partners and that is it. It made for a nice change of pace to other teen books. I am definitely putting this series on my to-read list.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Dystopia, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, 390 pages, read by Eric, on 02/07/2015

In the walled, dystopian city-state of Quill, each year brings the Purge, when children turning thirteen are sorted into two groups. The Wanteds are allowed to stay in Quill, and continue training at the university. The Unwanteds, those displaying any sort of artistic creativity, are taken from Quill to the Lake of Boiling Oil, as a death sentence for their transgressions. When Alex Stowe is taken with other Unwanteds to their fate, they instead discover their salvation- the Lake of Boiling Oil is a front for Artime, a magic refuge and school, where the artistic talents of the Unwanteds become spells capable of amazing things, including the inevitable defense of Artime when the High Priest Justine of Quill discovers the ruse.

At first, the similarities to Harry Potter were distracting, and I found some of the magical artistic powers and creatures to be a bit silly. As the story progressed, though, I was drawn in a little more with each chapter. By the end, I was enjoying it all, and wanting to continue to the next book. I just needed to keep the intended audience in mind, and let fantasy be wild. This Mark Twain Award winner is a great beginning for a creative series.

By the time this book even starts, Kit has had an interesting life. As an orphan, he was picked up by a traveling circus and was known for his show riding before his age hit the double digits. Times changed though and Kit gave up the circus circuit for a more stable life as a servant to a nobleman. Life is uneventful until one night, when his master comes back to the house late at night, bleeding out from bullet wounds. As it turns out, the kind man that Kit thought was a relatively normal fellow is actually one of the most notorious highwayman in the country. In an attempt to go and seek help, Kit dons the clothes his master, Whistling Jack, grabs his French Bulldog, Demon and flees on his horse, Midnight. Jack instructed Kit to go and find a witch in the woods right before scrawling out an indecipherable will. After a daring escape that nearly gets Kit killed, he manages to stumble upon the very woman he was supposed to find. The witch informs him that he must now finish his master’s quest, which involves a number of fantastical beings whose existence was previously unknown to Kit. Kit tries to refuse, but since not completely the quest will end in his death, Kit has no real choice to but to comply. The quest? To rescue a fairy princess who is betrothed to the King of England. Finding the princess is easy. Getting her to cooperate is another matter altogether. Dodging both human and fairy enemies, Kit and Princess Morgana have little more than their wits to rely on as they seek safe passage to neutral territory.
This swashbuckling adventure story is a little bit slow to start with, but picks up steam as the main characters reveal themselves. The plot is very involved and the pacing is a bit quirky. Real historical details add a realistic edge to an otherwise whimsical tale. The occasional footnote provides clarifications primarily of the historical nature. Throughout are illustrations of various scenes and characters. The timing of the illustrations can be disruptive from time to time, but they’re a nice overall addition. There’s a lot of clever wordplay, though some of the vernacular may confuse younger readers. Fans of fantasy or historical adventure won’t be disappointed.

05. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Witches in Red: A Novel of the Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee, 325 pages, read by Kira, on 02/05/2015

73c9e61f40e8ecb33746dd3ae3504852  Sisters Celine and Amelie are asked by their patron Prince to uncover why men in a remote silver mining town keep turning into werewolves.  Both sisters are seers, Celine can see the future, and Amelie can see the past.werewolf-werewolves-24033227-530-496  I couldn’t put the book down, it was fast paced and intriguing.  I did manage to figure out who was the bad “guy”.  I was disappointed that Amelie needed to be rescued.  I would like to read the first book in the series.

05. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber, 196 pages, read by Brian, on 02/05/2015

vampireRaven, a 16 year old girl, who lives in Dullsville, maybe the most boring place on earth.  Until a new family moves into a creepy old mansion.  The family never comes out of the mansion and creepy butler does all the shopping.  Raven is a dedicated goth and the fact the people of the town jokingly calls this new family vampires, peaks her interest even more.  After seeing the son, Alexander, out a night, she instantly falls in love.  Raven, really wants a vampire kiss and will do anything to find out if this is a family of vamps.

 

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Homeland by R.A. Salvatore, 343 pages, read by Leslie, on 01/25/2015

In exotic Menzoberranzan, the vast city of the drow is home to Icewind Dale prince Drizzt Do’Urden, who grows to maturity in the vile world of his dark elf kin. Possessing honor beyond the scope of his unprincipled society, can he live in world that rejects integrity?

As the first in a trilogy, the book was a very long read, but the story didn’t really drag on and on.  Drizzt is born into a matriarchal society where the women worship Lolth, the Spider Queen.  To get ahead in society, houses plot against each other, the women become priestesses to Lolth and the men are considered drow and unimportant.  Drizzt is born to be sacrificed to Lolth to gain favor for their house and is saved only because the second son murders the first son just as he is born.  He is raised and trained to become a weapons master and becomes one of the best in Menzoberranzan.  Although he doesn’t become aware of it until he is grown, his father is the current weapons master and trains him to be better than he is.  His father also imparts to him a sense of right and wrong, something that doesn’t happen in their world.  When his father sacrifices himself to Lolth to save Drizzt, Drizzt sets off to live alone in the Underworld in order to escape living in a society he hates.

I really did enjoy reading this book, but unless you are a fan of fantasy and the Forgotten Realms books, it may not be for you.

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kristy, Paranormal, Romance, Teen Books

The Young Elites by Marie Lu, 355 pages, read by Kristy, on 01/29/2015

TheYoungElites.jpgAfter the blood fever, an often deadly sickness, spreads through the land, many infected died a painful death. The ones who don’t die are left with peculiar markings. Some of the survivors develop magical powers, including the protagonist of the novel, Adelina Amouteru.  When Adelina escapes from her cruel father, she finds herself in the midst of the Young Elites, a group of magical youth who seek to take the throne.

The Young Elites is a dark, sexy young adult novel that never has a dull moment. I loved watching Adelina develop her dark powers and her relationship with Enzo (the leader of the young elites).

02. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch, 422 pages, read by Angie, on 02/01/2015

Meira is one of only eight surviving people of Winter who are not enslaved in the work camps of Spring. Sixteen years ago Spring’s evil ruler Angra destroyed winter and enslaved its people. Meira and the others are determined to free the people and get back Winter’s magic. Meira was just a baby when Winter fell and along with the future king Mather have been raised by Winter’s general William who Meira calls Sir. In order to restore their magic they have to find Winter’s conduit, a locket broken in two by Angra. Their quest will take them across the land as they search for allies and find enemies. It will also take them into the heart of Spring and Angra’s evil rule. Meira has to decide what is really important, her happiness or the future of Winter. Her destiny is revealed during her greatest hardship. The battle for Winter has just begun.

I love fantasy books like this. Raasch has created a world like no other. Primoria is a land of magic controlled by royal conduits. It is a land of balance with four Seasons and four Rhythm kingdoms. It is a land with four female and four male conduits. I really liked the idea of the Season kingdoms. Their climates don’t change from their season. Winter is perpetually winter and its people are built for the cold and the ice. They have pale skin and white hair. The other Seasons are likewise designed. Meira joins the ranks of strong female characters who can kick butt just like the boys. The revelation of her destiny was not that big of a surprise but it was interesting. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

02. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste , 240 pages, read by Angie, on 02/01/2015

Corinne lives on an island with her fisherman father. Her mother died when she was a baby. The island is a special one with a forest filled with Jumbies. Jumbies are creatures that can harm you if you come in contact with them. The villagers stay away from the forest and the jumbies and have lived together for many years. One day Corinne ventures into the forest to retrieve a necklace that belonged to her mother and is followed out by Severine. Severine is the queen of the jumbies and it turns out the sister of Corinne’s mother. Severine wants a family and decides she is going to take Corinne and her father. When that doesn’t work out for her she decides to retake the island from the humans. Corinne teams up with her friends to stop Severine and save their home.

The Jumbies is an interesting fairy tale based off island myths. Baptiste used the stories of jumbies from her childhood to craft a modern fairy tale. The jumbies are just scary enough but not too scary to intrigue young readers. The chapters are nice and short and make you want to keep reading. The characters were well developed and interesting. I liked the Severine’s motivations were actually revealed and she wasn’t just a one-dimensional character like so many villains.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.

02. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction

All the Answers by Kate Messner, 256 pages, read by Angie, on 01/31/2015

One day in the middle of taking a math test Ava discovers that if she writes out a question her pencil will give her the answer. This is super helpful with the math test so Ava and her friend Sophie experiment to see what else the magic pencil can help them with. This results in some amusing things like who likes who and when boots are going on sale. It also reveals deeper information like the fact that Ava’s mom is sick and her grandpa is going to die. Ava is a really anxious kid who has anxiety about all kinds of things ranging from tests to jazz band tryouts to school field trips to her parents getting divorced. This anxiety keeps her withdrawn and stops her from participating fully in life. With the help of the pencil Ava conquers some of her anxiety and starts coming out of her shell.

I didn’t like this book nearly as much as I have enjoyed Messner’s other books. I’m not sure I really buy the explanation of how the pencil came to be magical in the first place. It seemed a little too convenient. I did really like the interactions with Ava and her grandparents however. I thought all the scenes at the nursing home where her grandpa lived were very touching and sweet. While it doesn’t quite reach the excellence of Capture the Flag, I am sure this book will be a hit with fans of Kate Messner.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.com.

29. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction

The Last Wild by Piers Torday, 336 pages, read by Angie, on 01/28/2015

Oh how I hate a cliffhanger! Mainly because I don’t have the next book on hand to immediately start reading. I have wanted to read The Last Wild ever since I heard about it and it did not disappoint.

Kester is a boy who has been taken from his home and imprisoned in Spectrum Hall. He is unable to speak ever since his mom died several years ago. He hasn’t heard from his dad in the six years he has been in Spectrum Hall. Kester’s world is one in which there was a plague that destroyed all the animals and the food of the world. The people of the island where he lives are confined into four cities and the island is controlled by the powerful Factorium. One ordinary day in Spectrum Hall Kester discovers he can hear animals. First it is a cockroach and then pigeons. They break Kester out and take him to the last wild. There he meets the last stag and many other animals that have survived the plague. Unfortunately, they are in danger because the plague has reached the last wild. Their only hope is Kester and finding a cure. Kester sets off with the stag, cockroach, pigeons and a courageous wolf-pup to the city to find his father and a cure. Along the way he is joined by other animals and Polly, who has lived in the quarantine zone with her parents until they disappeared. They are chased by the evil henchmen of the Factorium who wants to destroy all animals no matter if they are sick or not. Kester has to find his courage and his voice in order to succeed.

It isn’t often that you read a book where the main character cannot talk. While Kester can talk to the animals, he is unable to communicate with the people he meets. This leads to some pretty interesting situations. As much as I liked Kester and Polly, it was really the animals who were the stars of this story. There is the only white pigeon who repeats everything the gray pigeons say only in a different order and often with completely different and hilarious meanings. There is the brave wolf-pup who is super courageous and let’s everyone know about his bravery. There is the cockroach named “General” who seems to sleep more than most put still claims to be the leader. There is the mouse who has a dance for every occasion. And finally the majestic stag who saves them time and again. The book is a mix of fantasy and dystopian and road novel mixed with coming of age. I loved every page of it!

26. January 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales by Terry Pratchett, 352 pages, read by Angie, on 01/23/2015

Dragons at Crumbling Castle is a collection of short stories from Terry Pratchett’s youth. In them you can see the beginnings of Pratchett’s signature snarky style and irreverent humor. These fourteen tales are fun and funny and slightly silly. Fans of Pratchett will certainly enjoy this peak into his early work.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.