30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Sekret by Lindsay Smith, 337 pages, read by Courtney, on 04/25/2014

Yulia’s parents used to be nomenklatura, members of the Soviet elite. Now, Yulia lives with her mother and brother, her father’s whereabouts unknown. They’ve been on the run, eluding the KGB, for several years. Then, on a day much like any other, Yulia uses her ability to read minds in order to get desperately needed supplies on the black market. Yulia senses something wrong and, before she can do anything about it, she is taken into custody by KGB operatives. It turns out that they had been specifically tracking Yulia for some time and not because of her parent’s former transgressions, but rather due to her psychic abilities. Yulia is forced to join a top-secret group of operatives with powers similar to hers. There, Yulia learns to block her own thoughts from being read and how to hone her own skills for the purposes of espionage. Yulia knows they have her mother and brother and she has been promised time with them as a reward for her cooperation. As if that weren’t incentive enough, the man in charge of their group, Rostov, is known as a “scrubber” and is able to “scrub” the thoughts right out of someone’s brain, only to be replaced with thoughts of his choosing. Yulia and her comrades manage to expose a traitor with connections to the CIA, only to discover that the traitor has had memories erased by another scrubber. This other scrubber appears to have even more power than Rostov. He’s also looking for Yulia. If this scrubber, who works for the enemy, is more powerful than the USSR’s scrubber, then Yulia’s not safe anywhere.
I found Secret to be both unique and fascinating. I’ve read quite a few books involving mind reading and other psychic powers, but this is by far the most realistic use of such powers that I’ve come across. The Soviet backdrop (a real dystopia!) is detailed and well-researched. Much of the plot centers around real events from the Cold War era (the space race, Cuban Missile Crisis). Further, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the KGB was doing research on physic abilities during this era(mainly in response to the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program), which makes this a fantastic merging of the paranormal and the historical. A cliff-hanger ending sets this up for a sequel.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost, 560 pages, read by Courtney, on 04/05/2014

Will West has been flying under the proverbial radar at his parent’s insistence for as long as he can remember. He keeps his grades mediocre and makes sure to hold back at his cross-country meets. His life is under control until one day, when he realizes he’s being followed by men in unmarked black vehicles. His instincts tell him that things aren’t right and he needs to get out of town. When an elite prep school called the Center for Integrated Learning contacts him with an offer of admittance due to an extraordinarily high standardized test score, Will figures he might as well go. What he discovers is that the remote Wisconsin boarding school is home to the country’s best and brightest. Will no longer needs to hold back; he can tap into his true potential. He finds quickly that he possesses even more impressive abilities than he ever thought possible. He quickly establishes friendships with his hall-mates and makes himself the enemy of the school bullies. As Will begins to explore both the school and his own abilities, he realizes that there is nothing random about the school finding him and that the connections he is discovering date all the way back to the middle ages.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book. I mean, I had just read another book involving a mysterious and elite boarding school, so it’s entirely possible I was just getting bored and/or confused with plotlines. I had a lot of problems with the basic premise. How can a kid who is so clearly a genius never question his parents’ instructions to not stand out? It seems to me that, since most parents typically push their children to do their best, it would be somewhat suspicious for the parents of an incredibly smart and talented kid to tell their child to hide all of it. Wouldn’t a genius, especially a teenaged one, have a few questions for Mom and Pop? I also really wished that I had some idea of what the titular prophecy actually referred to. I’ve been informed that much more will be made clear in the second book, but considering that Frost had 500+ pages to set everything up, one might think it’s not too much to ask to have at least a little more information. Instead, it winds up feeling like 500 pages of exposition, which is a bit tiring on many levels. On the upside, the pacing was quick and a few of the characters were entertaining.

hollow city   The story picks up where Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children ended with Jacob and his peculiar friends running for their lives from hollows and the wights and trying to figure out a way to save Miss Peregrine. They aren’t sure if there are any safe time loops left or if they have all been destroyed. Can they find someone who knows how to turn Miss Peregrine back into a human? The children travel into war-torn London and come across other peculiar folks along the way. Once again the author uses vintage black and white photographs to illustrate his story creating a different visual experience for the reader.

09. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kristy, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Diviners by Libba Bray, 578 pages, read by Kristy, on 03/09/2014

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

03. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal, Teen Books

Snakeroot by Andrea Cremer, 307 pages, read by Leslie, on 03/28/2014

17372472

Bosque Mar haunts Adne and Logan’s dreams, trying to turn Adne to the dark side as he attempts to escape the Nether, where Calla, Shay and the other Guardians trapped him in the final battle of the War of All Against All.

If you enjoy this series, you will like the way she continues the story of this world. I was hoping that the trilogy was not the finish and this book does not disappoint.  Now I can only wonder how the wolves will play a role in this next chapter of the saga.

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

Murder of Crows: a Novel of the Others by Anne Bishop, 354 pages, 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

01. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal, Teen Books

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer, 407 pages, read by Leslie, on 03/23/2014

8130839

Calla Tor, the alpha member of her shapeshifting wolf pack, must decide if her illicit love for the human Shay is worth the ultimate sacrifice.

The final book in this trilogy does not disappoint in the end. So as not to spoil the ending, I won’t say who dies, if they save the world, or what happens to the characters in the end.  Suffice it to say that it’s a good read, especially for those who enjoy paranormal type of books.  Young adults and teens will definitely enjoy it.

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

Black Orchid by Neil Gamain, 176 pages, 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: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Beautiful Chaos: Caster Chronicles # 3 by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, 519 pages, 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?

28. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Paranormal

The Strangers by Jacqueline West, 320 pages, read by Angie, on 03/27/2014

This is the fourth book in the Elsewhere series. Olive Dunwoody lives in a magical house. The house used to belong to the McMartins, a family of powerful magicians who all died. The house is filled with magical paintings that lead to Elsewhere. With a special pair of glasses, Olive can enter the paintings and go to Elsewhere. In a previous book in the series, Adolphus McMartin and Annabelle McMartin both escaped from their paintings. They want the house and its magic back. In this book, Olive’s parents are kidnapped and a family of magicians come to town to help her. Olive has to figure out where her parents are and who she can trust.

I think my appreciation for this book would have been higher if I had read more than the first book of the series. I found the villains in this tale fairly predictable. However, the action was good and I am sure fans of this series were quite happy with how the story played out.

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

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks, 313 pages, 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.

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

The Daylighters by Rachel Caine, 358 pages, 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.

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

Dark and Stormy Knights by edited by P.N. Elrod, 357 pages, 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.

27. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Paranormal, Tammy, Teen Books · Tags:

Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles # 2) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, 503 pages, read by Tammy, on 02/16/2014

Now that Lena has made it past her 16th birthday and managed to break the family curse of being chosen for either dark or light without any say in the matter, she is trying to cope with the cost. The death of her beloved Uncle Macon. And still she will have to make a choice…. light or dark caster. Ethan thinks she will have to choose by her seventeenth birthday as the song they can both her has changed from sixteen moons to seventeen moons.

But Lena’s not the only one trying to figure out who she really is and dealing with her family’s past. Ethan has some personal discoveries of his own to make. Will Lena choose light or dark? Will she and Ethan make it through these choices together or has to much changed?

07. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake , 333 pages, read by Courtney, on 09/29/2013

Things aren’t going so well for the gods of old. Athena has been growing feathers on the inside of her body while Hermes has been wasting away. In an attempt to find the source of their mortality, they begin traversing the country in search of answers. It appears that the other gods aren’t doing well either; each is dying in their own way. Their power is fading. Demeter points them in the direction of someone who might be able to help, provided they can find her and make her remember who she is before Hera and Aphrodite do. War is brewing and they’ll need all the help they can get. The person they need now is the prophetess Cassandra, the same girl who was cursed by Apollo to see the future but to not be believed by anyone. The original Cassandra died centuries ago, but her reincarnation lives a normal high school existence and is completely unaware of her potential role in the brewing war.
Fans of Greek mythology won’t want to miss this one. The gods are doing all the things the gods are known for: drama, trickery, intimidation and deception. Cassandra is a pretty cool girl with a doting brother and loyal bff, both of whom will come in rather handy as the story progresses. Athena is not someone to mess with, even in her weakened state. Old alliances are tested as desperate goddesses seek to save themselves at the expense of everything else. Some knowledge of Greek myth and classical literature will definitely help readers to appreciate the motivations of the various characters, but plenty of background information is presented as well. I really enjoyed this dark take on the gods-in-the-real-world theme.

30. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Tammy

Ghoul Goblin by Jim Butcher, 152 pages, read by Tammy, on 01/05/2014

ghoul goblin   The first graphic novel in the Dresden Files series that is not based on one of the original novels. Harry Dresden, a Chicago private investigator and wizard is contacted by a small-town police deputy from an isolated town in Missouri. A local family has suffered for generations from a curse with family members dying in strange unfortunate accidents. The deputy wants to protect the remaining family members including two children but the sheriff is convinced it’s all coincidence so he turns to Harry for help. Can Harry save them? Is it just the family curse or are other supernatural creatures at work in this small town? Can Dresden cleanse the Talbot bloodline of its curse without a blood sacrifice of his own?

29. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, 416 pages, read by Courtney, on 01/14/2014

Blue comes from a long line of women with psychic abilities. Unfortunately for Blue, the only ability that seemed to manifest for her is the ability to amplify the abilities of others. For this reason, her mother takes her to the church road on St. Mark’s eve so that her mother can speak to the soon-to-be-dead. They do it every year, but this is the first year where Blue actually sees one of the ghosts. It’s a boy around her age and the only thing she can find out about his is that his name is “Gansey”. Her mother and some of the other women in their house of psychics tell her it must be because she is going to fall in love with him, which is a problem since there’s been a prophecy going around that if Blue kisses her true love, he’ll die.
Meanwhile, at Aglionby Academy, Richard Gansey and his friends have devoted their time to finding the grave of a lost Welsh king. According to Gansey’s research, there’s ample evidence that this king would be buried along ley lines, lines of energy and power. Gansey is positive that that he’s close to his goal, which, if found, will grant them a favor of epic proportions. As it turns out, however, Gansey is not the first to search here and the other person searching doesn’t have intentions nearly as kind as Gansey and his pals.
In an effort to find out what the local psychics know about ley lines and sources, Gansey pays a visit to Blue’s mother. Once these two paths cross, things start to get really interesting.
I wasn’t very excited going into this one as I was not a fan of the Mercy Falls series. I had heard enough good things about this series that I decided to assign it to one of my bookgroups so that I’d have to give it a try. Fortunately, I found it to be a pleasant surprise. The premise is fascinating and very unexpected. I found some of the trajectory to be a bit predictable, but still found some surprises along the way. I did have some issues with Blue only being able to act as a tool for others. I wanted her to have more power on her own. The amplification thing starts to make Blue seem like a passive character, when I believe that she’s got more going for her. I’m still a little sketchy on some of the smaller details and I felt like it took way too long for our protagonists to meet, but this may all be rectified with further installments in the “cycle”. Overall, a nice, fresh take on the paranormal genre.

28. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Eric, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Short Stories · Tags:

M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman, 260 pages, read by Eric, on 01/25/2014

“M is for magic. All the letters are, if you put them together properly.” This tasty tidbit is from Neil Gaiman’s introduction to the book, and wonderfully sums up my view of most of his writing. He has a way of stringing letters together which makes the mundane magical, or at the least, a bit odd. I like a bit odd, and so enjoyed this collection of short stories. It also was interesting to compare stories written earlier in his career to more recent ones, both of which are in this collection. I had read a couple of these tales before, and one in particular (The Witch’s Headstone) became a chapter in Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book. Short stories are a great introduction to an author, and so if you are one of the five people not familiar with Neil Gaiman, this collection is a decent place to start. Although it is a collection intended for younger readers, the content is pretty mature, including older cultural references I doubt young readers will understand.

22. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, 439 pages, read by Kira, on 01/19/2014

Wow!  I was so impressed with this 2nd book of the Raven Cycle trilogy.  Definitely, a book that stands on its own (well the background stoThedreamthievesbluery would be nice to have). tumblr_mswuqaIkXF1r181heo1_500135343_10202156284849292_698349595_oBlack Prince effigycabes water  Part of the credit goes to the awesome narrator of the Audiobook – Will Patton.  Patton manages unique and appropriate voices for each character.  The other part I really loved about this book, is the way it takes comaurora lynchmon narratives and breaks them, oh oh, the mother and aunties are letting the Hit Man into their house! danger danger, oh, but these women aren’t stupid, no they’re just braver and more clever than women usually get dreamthivscredit for.  This story focusesThe-Raven-Boys-IB2(pp_w573_h441) on Ronin and his abilties to dream objects and bring them back.  Also: Great Worldbuilding!

Pics include: Blue, the gang, Kavinsky’s car, Glendauer, Cabes Water, Aurora Lynchtumblr_mqgw0pp1ej1s2qitso1_500 tumblr_mdmygfZaTa1qmbg8bo1_500 and 2 collages.

21. January 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Tracy

Dark Witch by Nora Roberts, 342 pages, read by Tracy, on 01/12/2014

With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends.

Ireland. County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits. Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives.

When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package. Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive.