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

Fortunately, the Milk. by Neil Gaiman , read by Kira, on 03/31/2014

milkA cute piece of froth wherein the father goes out to purchase some milk for his children’s cereal, and when he arrives later than expected he spins a tale of time-traveling dinosaurs flying in balloons visiting talking volcanoes, purple ponies, vampires, and GaimanMilk_1_photo_Brady_Hall080713pirates.  Not Neil Gaiman’s usual fare.

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags: ,

Murder of Crows: a Novel of the Others by Anne Bishop, read by Kira, on 03/29/2014

murdcrows Mexican Wolf Peeking Over the Snow c.murder.crows.poland.TNIn the first novel, Written In Red Meg Corbin cements her place among the Others (vampires, werewolves, Medusa-plague-causer, elementals, etc).  In this book Murder of Crows, Meg and her Lakeside community confront additional attacks on their community and attempts to recapture Meg.   The Others are reminiscent of Native Americans, and I like the fact that they don’t get pushed around here and are able to deal with the intruders on their own terms… also that the polluters get their comeuppance.   I really enjoy this series – definite page-turners and full of atmosphere!

 

“Near perfect…Written in Red isn’t just the best urban fantasy of the year, it may be one of the best ever.”—All Things Urban Fantasy

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Hob and the Goblins by William Mayne, read by Lisa, on 03/12/2014

Hob is a friendly spirit who makes his home in one family’s house. He straightens out messes and takes a way small troubles. He enjoys looking out for his “family.” But one day, when Hob moves into a new house with a new family, he is unexpectedly confronted with a group of mean and nasty witches, gremlins, dwarfs, goblins, and an ominous ogre. Hob is forced to use all his tricks, a little cunning, much love, and his power to be invisible to help his adopted family to live peacefully in their new home.

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Tammy · Tags:

Black Orchid by Neil Gamain, read by Tammy, on 03/30/2014

black orchidNeil Gaiman writes a unique, dark and moving super hero story of a crime fighter trying to discover who she really is. I would recommend reading the introduction after reading the graphic novel. I think the intro gives to much away. The illustrations of Dave McKean make this a hauntingly beautiful story while the unique lettering technique of Todd Klein helps the reader follow the multiple story lines.

 

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Tammy · Tags:

Instructions by Neil Gamain, read by Tammy, on 03/29/2014

instructionsAn instruction book for any adventure you might want or need to take into fairyland or fantasy. Aimed at children and very brief with beautiful illustrations. I enjoyed the story though and think that adults will recognize fairy tales where the main characters didn’t follow the rules and bad things happened.

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Beautiful Chaos: Caster Chronicles # 3 by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, read by Tammy, on 03/28/2014

beautiful chaosEthan and Lena have survived her sixteenth birthday without Lena being claimed by dark magic in spite of her family’s curse. Then on her 17th birthday she claims her self as both dark and light magic but this choice has far reaching consequences. Both the mortal and the caster world is thrown out of order. Now, before someone’s 18th birthday a choice and a sacrifice must be made to save both worlds. Lena and Ethan’s family search for the answer of who or what will need to be sacrificed and if it’s a who, can they be saved?

31. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, read by Angie, on 03/30/2014

Alina grew up an orphan in Ravka. She joined the army with her best friend Mal. Mal became a tracker and Alina a cartographer. On a mission to cross the Fold, an evil darkness filled with monsters, they are attacked and saved by Alina. Alina suddenly has powers she didn’t know she had. She is the one and only sun-summoner Grisha and must be protected at all costs. She is taken to the Little Palace by the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha in Ravka, to be trained. She falls under the spell of the beautiful Grisha and the intriguing Darkling. But when she is told everything isn’t as it seems she runs away to save herself and Ravka.

I really enjoyed the Russian feel to this book. I was very glad I listened to it instead of reading it so I didn’t have to worry how all the Russian-sounding words were pronounced! However, I found the book fairly formulaic and didn’t feel like it covered any new ground. I was bored by Alina’s continued doubts about herself and her obsession with the beautiful Grisha. I did like the fact that the love story didn’t really become a love triangle and I enjoyed Mal and Alina’s relationship. There were some exciting battle scenes and the ending was fairly satisfying, but I didn’t think there was anything special about the book and don’t feel compelled to read any of the others in the series.

24. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal · Tags: ,

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks, read by Eric, on 03/23/2014

Ten-year-old Birdie works as an apprentice for Alfred, surrogate father and bogler, in the poor, tough streets and houses of Victorian London. A boglers job is to kill the various dark monsters infesting London, and snatching up their favorite snacks, children. Birdie is the bait for the team’s salt-circle traps, and is vital to luring out the bogles. She’s proud of her work, even though it is very dangerous, and doesn’t pay well. When Miss Eames, an upper-class lady fascinated with the science of monsters, convinces Alfred to allow her to observe their work, they soon find themselves faced with monsters of both the bogle and human kind.

This is an excellent start to a new trilogy, and right up my darkened alley. The bogles are nasty, the dingy Victorian setting is ominous, and the Alfred-Birdie monster hunting team is great. The human murder mystery at the center of it all is creepy, satisfying, and makes me wish for the next book. Recommended.

19. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction · Tags:

B.U.G. (Big Ugly Guy) by Jane Yolen, Adam Stemple, read by Angie, on 03/16/2014

Sammy Greenburg is bullied at school. He has a smart mouth and can’t seem to help mouthing off to the bullies. He makes friends with new kid Skink who helps a bit with the bullying situation, but isn’t always around. During bar mitzvah lessons he learns about golems. He decides to make a golem to help him out. Gully, the golem, does protect him from the bullies and he becomes his friend. Sammy, Skink and Gully form a band and get a gig performing at school. Of course Sammy’s rabbi tries to warn him about the danger golems can be to those around him. Sammy has to decide what to do about Gully and the bullies.

There are parts of this book I really liked. I liked the lessons on bullying and making friends and making good decisions. However, this was kind of a clunky book to read. It starts with a chapter on golems going crazy in Isreal featuring Sammy’s rabbi. Doesn’t seem to fit with rest of the story except when the rabbi tells the story later to illustrate how dangerous golems can be. I also didn’t buy just how horrible the bullies were. Bullies are of course mean and terrible and they do really bad things, but do most 6th grade bullies try to kill their classmates? I don’t think so. I found it strange that no one questioned Gully’s appearance (which is gray down to his teeth) or the fact that he just shows up and starts going to school nor do they question his disappearance. Even though this book isn’t supposed to be exactly realistic, it has so many realistic elements that the fantastical bits really stood out and didn’t work.

14. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy · Tags: ,

The Daylighters by Rachel Caine, read by Tammy, on 03/11/2014

morganvilleThis Morganville adventure picks up right where the previous book left off. Claire, Shane and Eve have returned to Morganville only to find it greatly changed and a the anti-vampire group, The Daylighters, in charge. They aren’t sure what has happened to their vampire friends, Michael, Mrynin and Oliver. Eve’s only concern is getting Michael back safely. Shane is dealing with the affects of a mysterious dog bite. Even the Glass House and Matilda don’t feel safe. Claire however has to decide if she’s on the side of good or evil in this fight. People can now come out of their homes without fear and can be out on the streets after dark. Isn’t that a good thing? But what is happening to the vampires who have all been captured and hauled away to a guarded building at the edge of town. The leader of the Daylighters claims he is trying to find a cure but Claire doesn’t believe him. Her previous experience with the group back East makes her question everything about them.

I believe this may be the final chapter in the Morganville series. Many questions are cleared up at the end including relationships. The author’s wording of her opening also leads me to think this may be the last book. If so, it is a satisfying ending.

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

The Apprentices by Maile Meloy, Ian Schoenherr (Illustrations), read by Angie, on 03/06/2014

The Apprentices is the sequel to The Apothecary. Maybe I would have gotten more out of this book if I had read the first one, but somehow I don’t think I would have liked it even then. Because I didn’t read the first book, I had no idea who the characters were and why I should care about them. The story jumps around between each character so much that it is a little difficult to keep the thread of the story going. And what a convoluted mess of a story it is.

Janie is a girl who goes to boarding school and is super smart. She gets accused of cheating on a test even though she aced it by her scheming roommate. Roommates father wants her experiment on desalination, but that plot goes no where fast. Janie ends up living with the family who owns the Italian restaurant even though she doesn’t know them. The boy of the family of course develops a crush on her. In other story lines, Benjamin is in love with Janie but hasn’t seen her in two years. He and his father are out in war torn Asia trying to help people. There are of course some other characters we are supposed to care about, but really could care less. There is a of course a couple of villains who want to kidnap all our characters so they can make a nuclear bomb that can’t be stopped. There is an island with a secret uranium mine. There are boat rides and plane rides and bus rides and cannibals and magic and sorcery.

It was a trial to read this book and I probably would have given up on it if I didn’t have to read it. Wouldn’t recommend unless you were a super fan of the first one.

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer, read by Leslie, on 02/21/2014

Wolfsbane (Nightshade, #2)

Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she’s certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer–one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack–and the man–she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

In the 2nd book of the series, Calla is determined to save her friends from the life they’ve always known and that she has learned is not what she imagined. She learns more truths than she could imagine existed in her old world and the new one she is trying to claim.  Worth the read.

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer, read by Leslie, on 02/08/2014

Nightshade (Nightshade, #1)

Calla is the alpha female of a shape-shifting wolf pack. She is destined to marry Ren Laroche, the pack’s alpha male. Together, they would rule their pack together, guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But then, Calla saves a beautiful human boy, who captures her heart. Calla begins to question everything – her fate, her existence, and her world and the orders the Keepers have asked her to follow. She will have to make a choice. But will she follow her heart if it means losing everything, including her own life?

Calla has lived her whole life believing what she’s been told, what she has to do.  While she has had her doubts and questions, never has she felt the desire to act on them until she meets Shay.  Together they break away from what she’s always been taught and try to forge a new future for her friends and family while learning the truth about the dark nature of who she is.  Thoroughly enjoyed this book!

03. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie, Teen Books

Rise by Andrea Cremer, read by Leslie, on 02/05/2014

Rise (Nightshade Prequel, #2)

Everything Conatus stands for is at risk. Hoping to gather enough resistance to save their order, Ember and Barrow attempt a desperate escape. But fate offers little mercy. When their mission is exposed, the  couple face relentless pursuit by the supernatural horrors that act on the commands of Eira’s ally: the mysterious Bosque Mar. A shocking revelation forces Ember out of hiding, sending her back into the heart of dark magic at Tearmunn keep, where she must convince her old friend Alistair of her love or face dire consequences. Ember’s deception offers the only chance for the resistance to succeed, but what she discovers in the shadows beneath the keep will shatter her world and bring about the Witches’ War.

I like to read prequels before I read a series, especially once I discover the series after they are all published.  Very interesting to read books that weave supernatural society next to human society, although this one isn’t really secret from the humans.  In this series, the dark side has found it’s way into our world.  Now it is up to the descendants of those who fight against the dark to try and erase it’s existence in the realm of humanity.  Can’t wait to see how it works in the future.  Good read for young adults.

01. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George, read by Kira, on 02/27/2014

dragonslippers  dragonskin-slippers Another story where the orphan maiden is sacrificed to the local dragon, and eventually marries the prince of the kingdom.

Not all goes as planned, first, they weren’t sure the dragon still existed, since no one had seen him.  Then it turns out the dragon really didn’t want to deal with humans, he was too old, and humans too dangerous.  Then it turns out that dragons horde very different items depending on their own particular interest.  This particular dragon hordes shoes.  The protagonist Creel, gets a pair of shoes from the dragon, shoes with special powers.  A delightful tale, I did think back to the Stolen Child, about the theme, enjoying what you’ve got, when Creel was living in the dragon’s cave, eating well, pleasant company, and able to embroider to her heart’s content.  To someone who would love more time to craft, it sounded idea..   Not as good as the other 2 books I’ve read by Day, the pacing wdragonslipas a bit too dragintense towards the end for me.

28. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, read by Courtney, on 02/15/2014

Hollow City picks up almost exactly where book one left off. Jacob and his peculiar friends have left their loop with Miss Peregrine (who is still stuck in bird form) in tow. They’re not sure where they’re headed, but they definitely know that they need the help of another ymbryne to Miss Peregrine return to her human form. Without her, they cannot get Jacob back to his time and they will have no one to protect them from the hollows and wights. In their quest to get help, they meet a bunch of other peculiars from other loops. Along the way, they find that the hollows are collecting the ymbrynes in London for their own needs. In spite of the fact that London (and most of the rest of Europe) are deeply embroiled in WWII, the gang heads off to London.
Overall, this wasn’t really as good as the first book in the Peculiar Children series. It becomes readily apparent that some of the pictures are now requiring a bit more suspension of disbelief to accept them as part of the story. The other loops were interesting, particularly the all-animal loop. The pace, however, drags from time to time and the initial novelty of the format starts to wear thin. This book follows a lot of second-book-in-the-series formulas. The first book set up the world; this book has them hitting the road and leaves their world worse than its beginning. The ending clearly sets us up for the next book in the series. I didn’t hate it; I didn’t love it.

28. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fantasy, Teen Books · Tags:

The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen, read by Courtney, on 02/11/2014

The False Prince starts out with a teenaged orphan named Sage stealing a slab of meat for the others in his orphanage. On his way home, Sage runs into a man called Connor who shows a great deal of interest in Sage. After a discussion with the lady who runs the orphanage, Sage finds himself along with three other orphan boys his age in the custody of Connor and his henchmen. Connor tells the boys he has a plan. That plan involves one of the boys becoming wealthy and powerful beyond his wildest dreams. The boy that is chosen will be part of a massive and dangerous secret. The boys that aren’t chosen? Well, no one seems to want to say out loud what will become of them. Escape is a tempting option, but when given the chance to leave, one of the boys does and is promptly killed for his decision. Sage decides he will go along with Connor to see just what he is plotting, as much out of self-preservation as his own curiosity.
Once at Connor’s estate, it is revealed that the royal family is, in fact, dead. The eldest son and his royal parents had all been poisoned some weeks prior, but no one outside the king’s inner circle knows. Connor is one of the king’s advisers and is thus privy to such information. Connor decides to take matters into his own hands. His plan is dangerous. There was once a second son in the royal family. The younger of the two boys had been sent away years ago by his parents due to behavior-related incidents. Instead of going to the boarding school he was supposed to attend, the young prince ran off, only to wind up on ship that is overtaken by pirates. According to the official narrative, the prince did not survive. Since no body had ever been found, however, Connor decides that he will create an alternate story where the prince was secretly in hiding. Lacking an actual prince, Connor is determined to train the orphans that he’s tracked down to be as much like the real prince as possible. Then, when the public has been informed that their beloved king and queen (and heir) are dead, Connor will present the rest of the advisers with his version of the prodigal son. Naturally, the boys not chosen will be privy to treasonous secrets, which puts their chances at long and happy lives at a minimum. Sage decides that, even though he really doesn’t want to be the king, he would prefer not to die just yet, so he sticks around and attempts to play Connor’s game.
The False Prince is a delightful series opener. Sage is a fantastic character with wit and cleverness to burn. The rest of the cast of characters are equally intriguing and nuanced. The playful tone of the narrative counteracts the more serious questions of political intrigue and personal identity. The pacing is impeccable and a massive twist at the end will leave readers reeling and hankering for the next book in the trilogy (if they don’t go back and reread the book with different eyes). I had my middle-schoolers read this one for our most recent book group and they all loved it.

27. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Rachel, Teen Books

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, read by Rachel, on 02/27/2014

The Pevensie siblings travel back to Narnia to help a prince denied his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.

A battle is about to begin in Prince Caspian, the fourth book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been enchanting readers of all ages for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone novel, but if you would like to see more of Lucy and Edmund’s adventures, read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the fifth book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

 

27. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy

Dark and Stormy Knights by edited by P.N. Elrod, read by Tammy, on 02/24/2014

dark and stormyNine short stories from some of today’s most popular paranormal fantasy authors. It’s theme is about “knights” who do dark deeds but for all the right reasons. I picked it up because it contains a short story by Jim Butcher author of the Dresden Files. Though this short story is set in Dresden’s world he does not appear. Instead mob boss, and one of the only human signatory of the Unseelie Accords, John Marcone is the featured character.

Includes stories from: Ilona Andrews,Shannon K. Butcher, Rachel Caine, P.N. Elrod, Deidre Knight, Vicki Pettersson, Lilith Saintcrow and Carrie Vaughn.

24. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George, read by Kira, on 02/21/2014

princess of glass    Another delightful retelling of a fairy tale by Jessica Day George, this time, we revisit the story Cinderella.  In this version it is the Fairy Godmother who is wicked, and Eleanora (Cinderella) is but a victim.  The protagonist is Poppy one of the Twelve Dancing Princesses from an earlier book.  I think I must read all of this author’s books – they are enchanting!red s red glass