06. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Teen Books

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, read by Courtney, on 07/08/2014

Sophie really, really wants to get kidnapped. As the rest of the town prepares to hide away their children before the School Master shows up to make his selection, Sophie is busy pulling the boards off the windows and readying her things. Every so often, the School Master sneaks through the small town, taking two children at a time; one good, the other evil. The kidnapped children are transported to The School for Good and Evil, never to be seen by their loved ones again. Unless they turn up in the storybooks that magically appear in the local bookstore. Agatha doesn’t believe in The School for Good and Evil. She’d much rather keep a low profile and continue living in the cemetery. Naturally, Agatha is a bit surprised when she sees a shadow whisking her only friend, Sophie, away. Agatha grabs onto Sophie and finds herself transported as well. Sophie is elated, until she is dropped off at the Evil school. Agatha is again surprised to find herself delivered to the Good school. Convinced that there’s been a clerical error of some sort, Sophie tries everything in her power to get herself into the School for Good. She doesn’t fit in with the Evil kids; Sophie would never dream of wearing black, after all. Agatha is in a similar situation. She’s uncomfortable with the frilly pink uniform and can’t fathom why all the other girls are so fixated on meeting their princes. It would appear, however, that once the decision has been made, there’s no going back, no matter how badly Sophie wants to end with her chosen prince. Poor Agatha wants nothing more than to go back home to her graveyard where she won’t have to deal with other people or wear pink everyday. Together, they try to find ways to either get back into the “correct” schools or go home.
This was such a cute book. It could easily have felt like a HP spin-off, but it never does. It incorporates tons of fairy tale tropes, but uses them in new or unconventional ways. The twist of the girls being in the “wrong” schools wasn’t a huge surprise, but it poses many interesting questions regarding the nature of good and evil. It’s obvious to the reader that Agatha is anything but evil, in spite of her appearance. Sophie is slightly more ambiguous. She comes across as shallow and inconsiderate, sure, but not necessarily evil. In fact, most of the “good” kids have very similar character traits. The Good school in general emphasizes the appearance of good while the Evil school seems more focused on mischief rather than anything truly evil. The point, of course, is that the kids are fulfilling the traditional roles in fairy tales, but the school presents its dual nature as a preservation of balance. I read this one for my middle school book group and the kids unanimously agreed that it was tons of fun. They loved the sense of humor and the offbeat plot. Frankly, I found it to be a refreshing change of pace in the magic/fairy tale genre.

05. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags: ,

Odin's Ravens by K.L. Armstrong, M.A. Marr, read by Angie, on 08/04/2014

Odin’s Ravens picks up right after the events of Loki’s Wolves. Matt, Fen and Laurie are headed to Hel to bring back their dead friend Baldwin. They hope that this mission will stop Ragnarok since Baldwin’s death is to start the apocalypse. In Hel they find Viking zombies, a river of acid, giants and Aunt Helen who agrees to help them. Once back in the real world they find that Ragnarok has not stopped and things are still progressing at a dangerous clip. Owen (Odin) enters the picture and decides to help them even though it limits his knowledge. Matt needs to find Mjolnir (Thor’s hammer). There are Valkyries, more Viking Zombies, wolves and battle goats! Seriously there are battle goats! It is an exciting time to be the living embodiment of a Viking God.

I think this series is a lot of fun. It is definitely for fans of Rick Riordan’s books and actually reminds me of them a lot. There is a lot of action and adventure, but you really learn about Norse Mythology. I like how the mythology isn’t shoved down the reader’s throat through a lot of exposition, but comes up naturally throughout the story. It is fun and fast-paced and I really can’t wait to see where the final book goes. The ending of this one was a bit of a slap in the face and I really want to see that resolved. 

04. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Grave Dance: an Alex Craft novel by Kalayna Price, read by Kira, on 08/01/2014

GraveDance grave_witch_cover_by_leafofsteel-d4v7vbqprice  In this second book of the series Alex Craft, raiser of “shades” is tasked with finding the killer who has only left feet as remains.  She also has to keep from being captured by various Fae courts.  Then there are the 2 guys competing for her, one is a grim reaper named Death, the other Falin Andrews is the Winter Court’s Assassin.  Another rousing fast-paced mystery!  I look forward to imagesDSC_0036the next book in the series.

01. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Jane, Teen Books · Tags:

Elemental by Antony John , read by Jane, on 07/29/2014

A lost colony is reborn in this heart-pounding fantasy adventure set in the near future . . .

Sixteen-year-old Thomas has always been an outsider. The first child born without the power of an Element—earth, water, wind or fire—he has little to offer his tiny, remote Outer Banks colony. Or so the Guardians would have him believe.

In the wake of an unforeseen storm, desperate pirates kidnap the Guardians, intent on claiming the island as their own. Caught between the plague-ridden mainland and the advancing pirates, Thomas and his friends fight for survival in the battered remains of a mysterious abandoned settlement. But the secrets they unearth will turn Thomas’ world upside-down, and bring to light not only a treacherous past but also a future more dangerous than he can possibly imagine.

01. August 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block, read by Angie, on 07/31/2014

Weird, wonderful, confusing, lyrical, strange, magical, incomprehensible…how to describe this book. The language of the story is beautiful and lyrical. The journey of the book is magical and schizophrenic. The story is a bit of a mess mixed with the Odyssey. On one hand I liked it, but on the other I thought it was a disaster of a book. 

This is the story of Pen (Penelope) who lives in LA with her mom, dad and brother Venice in a pink house by the sea. The end comes in the form of an Earth Shaker which destroys the world. Pen is left alone in her pink house with the sea even closer. She hides out until she is forced to leave. Then she sets off on a journey that mirrors the journey of Odysseus in the Odyssey. She blinds an one-eyed giant, gets stuck in the lotus-eater hotel, meets sirens and witches and seers. She is joined on her journey by beautiful Hex (boy who used to be a girl with a lot of problems) and tragic Ez and Ash. She is searching for her family. Turns out their is also an evil genius who created and cloned these flesh-eating giants and has a vendetta against Pen’s family. There is all kinds of crazy going on which just forces Pen to toughen up. She loses an eye but that only makes her able to see even more. And of course her entire journey is based on the path of orange butterflies. 

If you are confused by the description, just imagine how confusing the book is! The writing is beautiful and Pen’s story is fleshed out through flashbacks to her life Then (before the Earth Shaker). This is not your typical post-apocalyptic novel. There are magical forces at work here that make the story just a bit incomprehensible. It is interesting and beautiful, but definitely confusing. I thought there was just a little too much reliance on The Odyssey. The characters quote from it constantly and are way more familiar with the story than your average teenagers; they also say things like “this is just like the Odyssey” which I thought was a little too obvious. I’ve finished the book and am still not 100% sure what I thought of it. I liked it and disliked it. 

30. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal

Hunted The Iron Druid Chronicles Part 6 by by Kevin Hearne, read by Kira, on 07/20/2014

index  Hunted is more like Part II of book 5, in that it picks up seconds later from where Trapped left off.  Atticus, Graunuialle, and Oberon get chased across Europe, with Artemis & Diana trying to kill the 3 of them.  I didn’t like to see these 2 strong female role models – Artemis & Diana – being portrayed in such a stupid manner.  And as another reviewer said, Atticus is way too powerful in comparison with the “Gods” in the novel, he seems to be able to get them to do whatever he wants. I did really like the epilogue where Graunuialle got her own wolfhound.

29. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal

Trapped by Kevin Hearne, read by Kira, on 07/19/2014

Finally, after 12 years of training in secret to become a full druid,  Granuaile is ready to for the binding ceremony.  However, all the deities, that thought Atticus had died, now learn that he is still alive.  The saga continues.  They also have to help prevent Ragnarok.  I read this book back-to-back with the next book in the series “Hunted”, which is good, because Trapped ends on something of a cliffhanger.  They also kind of blended together in my mind, reading both in one straight shot.   trapped c92439bb9a4e1b7db76d3fc7fd23066eatticus_and_granuaile_by_codyvrosh-d63iuwe35ee3eae8e474884125d4c5c4b056dcbwlfh This was a fast enjoyable read, but sometimes Atticus is so arrogant, it is really annoying.  Iron_Druid_Chronicles images

29. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, read by Angie, on 07/29/2014

Felicity Pickle has been wandering her whole life. Her mama has a wandering heart and they barely get settled in a place before they are moving on. Felicity is hoping Midnight Gulch will change that. This is a place that feels like home. They are staying with her aunt Cleo and she learns that their family has a history in the mysterious Midnight Gulch. It is a place of wonder and magic. In the past magic bloomed everyone and in everyone, but since the Weatherly Brothers’ famous duel all that’s left is little snickers of magic. Felicity wants nothing more than to break the Weatherly Curse and stop her mama’s heart from wandering. It will take a whole cast of curious characters to help her out and another duel to settle things once and for all.

I was charmed by this quirky book. It is full of strange and wonderful characters both in the past and the present. I love the everyday magic that inhabited the people of Midnight Gulch and the snickers of magic that were left behind. It seems like there are lots of books in this genre: quirky, small town folks who band together out of love and hope and community. My only complaints were the overuse of specific words. Felicity sees words in the air and captures them in poems and her notebook. These words are wonderful and unique; however, her vocabulary is not. I got sick of reading spindiddly and what the hayseed and factofabulous. They were overused and unnecessary when such a rich vocabulary was introduced throughout the book. Other than that I really enjoyed it. 

28. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Dragon Spear by Jessica Day George, read by Angie, on 07/26/2014

Creel and Luka are engaged to be married and the dragons are safely living in the Far Isles. Creel is working hard on her wedding dress, but wants to visit Shardas and Velika before she gets married. While they are visiting Velika is kidnapped and spirited away to a far off land. Creel, Luka, Shardas and the others follow them to try to get Velika back. She has been kidnapped by rogue dragons who are failing and believe they need a queen to make them better. Problems arise because Velika is so close to giving birth to her clutch of eggs. Then the volcano blows and things go from difficult to impossible. 

I loved this conclusion to the Dragon Slippers trilogy. We get even more information on the dragons and we get to visit yet another exotic locale. I really enjoyed seeing Creel’s aunt again; it added a lot of comic relief to a somewhat dark book. I also really had to laugh at the saga of the wedding dress. This series just reinforced the fact that Jessica Day George is one of my favorite authors. It was fun and entertaining.

28. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Dragon Flight by Jessica Day George, read by Angie, on 07/18/2014

It has been a year after the events of Dragon Slippers. Creel has become a famous dressmaker and is still friends with the dragons and Prince Luka. They find out that dragons are being trained in a neighboring country and invasion is imminent. Creel and her friends and dragons must try to figure out a way to free the captive dragons and stop the war. Turns out dragons are being bred for war and there are thousands to save. It also turns out that the the country is under the control of a rogue dragon who wants revenge on the King of the Dragons Shardas. 

Yet another fun book by Jessica Day George. I liked the continuation of the Creel story. I also really enjoyed getting to know more dragons and finding out more about their culture. Creel is again the heroine of the Dragon War with the help of her friends. She also gets a little closer to Prince Luka, who she has a big crush on.

28. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George, read by Angie, on 07/25/2014

Creel has been sacrificed to a dragon by her aunt. Since her parents died she is just an extra mouth to feed for her impoverished family. Creel goes into the dragon’s lair, but the dragon doesn’t want her. So he gives her a pair of blue slippers from his hoard (not gold) and sends her on her way. Instead of heading back to her family, she takes off for the capital city. There she makes friends with another dragon and a prince of the realm. She finds a job in a dress shop because of her amazing embroidery work. She also runs afoul of the princess-to-be who is going to marry the older prince. The princess turns out be evil and steals Creel’s slippers. Turns out the slippers are dragon slippers and control dragons. War comes to the realm and it is up to Creel to figure out how to stop the evil princess.

I am a huge fan of Jessica Day George and this series is another winner. While it might not be quite as charming as the Castle Gower series, it is still pretty awesome. I loved Creel as the spunky, talented heroine. I also really loved the dragons. They all have unique personalities and I loved the different things they hoarded like shoes and dogs and stained glass. 

28. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce, read by Angie, on 07/27/2014

Battle Magic is the story of Briar, Rosethorn and Evvy in Yanjing. The events that are alluded to in The Will of the Empress are explained here. They become involved in a war between countries; fighting on the side of the God-King of Gyongxe. They are forced to become battle mages and use their ambient magic to help win the war. 

It has been a while since I read The Will of the Empress and Melting Stones (the two previous books in this series), but I do remember that Briar is portrayed as suffering from horrible PTSD because of the things he was forced to do in this war. He is so traumatized that he can’t sleep alone and has flashbacks and nightmares. Imagine my surprise on reading this book to find nothing that truly traumatizes him, except maybe thinking Evvy is dead. I was happy to return to the Circle world even though I have always enjoyed Pierce’s Tortall books more. However, I am not sure this book lives up to her others. For one, the narration skips around a lot. I am fine with multiple narrators because it gives the story more depth, but the narrators not only switch between chapters but within them as well. It ads a level of confusion that was unnecessary. The other thing that was surprising was that there was really no character growth for Briar, Rosethorn or Evvy. They all seemed exactly like the characters they have been in the previous books. The secondary characters also seemed to fade together and no one is a real standout. 

That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy reading this book. I did and stayed up way too late reading it. I liked learning more about what Briar and Rosethorn have been up to. However, I wasn’t impressed with the story or the battles really. The way it played out the group was essential to winning the war. Sure there were soldiers fighting and even some other mages, but Briar and Rosethorn and Evvy’s magic was the deciding factor, because they are so powerful and no one knows how to combat their ambient magic. Seemed a little to perfect to me. 

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. 

22. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Teen Books · Tags:

Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington, read by Kira, on 07/14/2014

livfor  Liv is a scholarship student at a rich school. You know that Liv has been killed at the start of this novel.  The question is why did she die, and why have there been so many mysterious deaths in the past.  This was a fun read, not particularly deep, but I like ghost characters.  The ending of the book leaves the possibility of sequel, but this probably won’t happen.Huntingdon-College-CC-Spyder-Monkey-e1351559840834The_Haunted_Mansion

21. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction

Angelic by Kelley Armstrong, read by Brian, on 07/19/2014

angelicKelley Armstrong is the author of the popular Otherworld series.  She likes to write short stories between her novellas.  Angelic is about Eve Levine a half-demon warrior who is used by the Fates to fight evil.  In her latest battle, Eve must battle the djinn, demons who do not have leader and have gone rogue.

 

 

14. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull, read by Angie, on 07/12/2014

Sky Raiders is the first in a new series by Brandon Mull. Cole and his friends visit a spooky haunted house on Halloween and are kidnapped by people from another world. Cole follows the kidnappers to the Outskirts where he too is caught. They are all slaves off to be sold to whoever wants them. Cole is bought by the Sky Raiders, a group that raids the floating castles for whatever treasure they might hold. Cole befriends Mira and they develop a plan to escape. Mira is more than she seems and needs to leave Skyhold before the Grand Shaper finds her. Cole, Mira, Jace and Twitch make their escape but are pursued by hundreds of soldiers. They make their way across this strange country to fight the Carnag and make Mira whole again.

This was a fun book. I thought Cole was a really interesting character full of loyalty for his friends and a daring risk-taker and hero. I can see how this series will be shaped with each book dealing with each of the princesses and each of the five kingdoms. This is a fascinating world Mull has created full of magic and mystery and intrigue. I think the series will be one kids will really enjoy. It is fast-paced, filled with interesting kids and a fabulous adventure.

10. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Brian, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Short Stories

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman, read by Brian, on 07/10/2014

neilNeil Gaiman is a wonderful writer who can write any genre.  Smoke and Mirrors is a collection of his short stories.  The stories range from science fiction to horror to normal life.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read.

 

07. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal, read by Angie, on 07/06/2014

Nalia has been brought up believing she is the future queen of Thordaval. After she turns 16 she is informed that she is not in fact the princess, but an imposter who replaced the princess because of a horrible prophecy. So Nalia, now Sinda, is unceremoniously sent to the country to live with an aunt she has never met. She has to leave everything she has known and loved behind to start a life she is not prepared for. Her aunt tries to teach her dyeing, but Sinda has no talent for it. She does find out that she has magic however. The spell that made her into the princess repressed her magical abilities. She heads back to the capital to learn how to control her magic. Sinda is unable to get into the wizard college because she is not a member of the nobility, but does find a witch willing to teach her. While in the capital Sinda uncovers a plot against the throne. It seems the princess prophecy might be more than it seems and the new princess might not be the true princess. Sinda has to figure out who is behind the plot and why before things go too far. 

I really enjoyed this story. I actually read it in one gulp for the most part. I like the fact that it is a stand alone novel and I don’t have to wait years to find out how the story plays out which is so very rare these days. I thought Sinda was fascinating. She is really thrust into situations that are completely different from what she is used to all without warning. She does fairly well dealing with them, but like anyone there are issues. She pushes away her best friend Kiernan and trusts new friends who don’t deserve her trust. But she is determined to solve the mystery and she is willing to go to any lengths to do it. I would definitely recommend this one.

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine , read by Lisa, on 06/10/2014

Once upon a time…A kind sister and a cruel one. A charming prince. A spiteful fairy. A hundred-year snooze. A pea under a pile of mattresses. A kiss.

All the familiar ingredients, but why is the punished sister happy? Where did that extra prince come from, and what does a flock of balding sheep or a fleck of tuna in a chocolate cake have to do with anything?

Gail Carson Levine has waved her magic wand over three well-known fairy tales, and presto! They are transformed — and sparklingly funny-in these delightful retellings:

The Fairy’s Mistake
The Princess Test
Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep

Happily ever after has never been so hilarious!

03. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Lisa, Teen Books

Tales From Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan, read by Lisa, on 06/05/2014

Breathtakingly illustrated and hauntingly written, Tales from Outer Suburbia is by turns hilarious and poignant, perceptive and goofy. Through a series of captivating and sophisticated illustrated stories, Tan explores the precious strangeness of our existence. He gives us a portrait of modern suburban existence filtered through a wickedly Monty Pythonesque lens. Whether it’s discovering that the world really does stop at the end of the city’s map book, or a family’s lesson in tolerance through an alien cultural exchange student, Tan’s deft, sweet social satire brings us face-to-face with the humor and absurdity of modern life.

01. July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

Nightingale's Nest by Nikki Loftin, read by Angie, on 06/30/2014

Little John is working with his father trimming trees for Mr. King during the summer. One day he hears the most amazing music. He discovers it is a little girl who sounds like a magical bird. She is an orphan living with Mrs. Cutlin whose property borders Mr. King’s. Gayle is just like a little bird, more comfortable in the nest she built in the tree than on the ground. Over the next few days Little John and Gayle become very close. Little John needs something good in his life. His family is not the same since the death of his little sister. His dad is drinking a lot and spending their rent money on booze. His mom still talks to the little sister Raelynn as if she is still alive. They are about to be evicted and have no where else to go. So when Mr. King offers John $500 to bring Gayle to his house and let him record her voice, John accepts. Mr. King is a bit creepy but John doesn’t think he would actually hurt Gayle. However, after he records her Gayle acts as if she has been wounded. She claims Mr. King stole her voice. There are a series of unfortunate events that leads to a horrible accident and the loss of the rent money. Little John has to make things right with his family and with Gayle.

I am still not sure what I think about this book. It was a very engaging story and one I really didn’t want to put down. However, it is based on a fairy tale I am unfamiliar with, which made the story a little more difficult to understand. Magical realism is also not my favorite genre. With that being said I think it is a magical little book that will definitely find fans.