|I’ve been a genuine book addict for as long as I can remember. At age six, I would get up at five o’clock to read before school. At age eight, I rapidly devoured fantasy titles like they were the only things that could save me. At age eleven, I was furious not to receive my Hogwarts letter. At age thirteen, I fell deeply in love with Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester. And to this day, I haven’t changed a bit. I remain an incorrigible bookaholic. Books are my best friends. And I’m still waiting for that owl!|
If my conversations with individual customers at all reflect the trends of the general populace, then there are many out there who have read and loved the first two books of Deborah Harkness's "All Souls Trilogy"- and are impatiently awaiting the third. If you fall into that group, then this is the book for you. After all, we all need something to tide us over until Ms. Harkness hurries up and finishes book three!
"The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic" follows the story of Nora Fischer, a graduate student who is having a rough year, both personally and professionally. Things for Nora become even more muddled when she stumbles through a mysterious graveyard and ends up lost in the woods. Then she meets Ilissa, a glamorous woman who lives in a forest mansion, who takes in the lost Nora. But before Nora can even realize it, she has become Ilissa's guest for far more than just a single night. In fact, Nora doesn't even know how long she's been there- but does it really matter? After all, there's so much laughter and dancing and fun, and now she's engaged to Ilissa's perfect son, Raclin. Which, come to think of it, strikes her as a little strange, but that thought doesn't linger... unfortunately. It turns out that Nora has been caught in the glittering, deceptive web of the malicious Queen of the Faitoren, an ancient race with a strange power over her perception of reality.
Escaping Ilissa and the Faitoren is only the first step. Nora has unknowingly stranded herself in another world, one that is very different from her own. And here, her only ally is the magician Aruendiel, a gaunt, mysterious figure who may or may not have murdered his own wife. It's going to take everything that Nora has to survive here- she has to learn a language, make alliances, and somehow persuade Aruendiel to teach her his magician's craft- which might be her only way home.
Smart, funny, and captivating, this is a fantastic read for anyone who likes their heroines intellectual (complete with degrees!) and their adventures thoroughly magical.
The year is 1985... for a while. Greta Wells is thoroughly miserable- her beloved twin brother has passed away, and her partner of ten years has left her. It isn't long before her psychiatrist realizes that none of the standard methods are helping Greta's crippling depression, and that more experimental treatments need to be tried. This is how Great Wells ends up as the subject of a revolutionary form of shock therapy. She's been warned that she may initially experience hallucinations as a side effect- but the results of her treatment are far more odd. After her first treatment, Greta wakes up in 1918. It's still her life, in the same place, surrounded by the same people, but it's happening in 1918, and the rules of the time apply: long dresses are worn, alcohol is hidden illegally, and there's a war going on. But the 1918 Greta is getting shock therapy, too- and it sends her to 1941.Over the course of her treatments, Greta cycles between her three lives, confiding only in her eccentric aunt Ruth. Each life is her own- but with dramatic differences. In 1918 and 1941, her brother is still alive. But in 1941 alone, beloved aunt Ruth is dead. In 1918 and 1941, Greta is married to Nathan, the lover who left her in her own time. But in 1918 he's away at war and Greta has turned to adultery- and in 1941 he's a doting husband and father of her six-year-old child. All things considered, Greta handles her oddly cycling lives pretty well. But eventually the treatments will come to an end- and then where will Greta be?This is an astounding, beautifully written novel that will have even the most skeptical reader believing fervently that "the impossible happens once to each of us."
If you enjoy fantasy of any sort, Chime is an absolute must-read. No, scratch that. If you enjoy books of any sort, Chime is an absolute must-read.
Briony Larkin hates herself. It is one of the many rules she put in place- she mustn't ever forget to despise herself. You hurt people. She tells herself. You hurt people and you must never forget it. Another of Briony's rules, this one set in place by her now-deceased stepmother, is that she must never, ever set foot in the swamp. Gone are her days of playing Wolfgirl alone in the bogs- Briony plus swamp equals terrible terrible things. After all, how did Stepmother die? How did Briony's sister Rose suffer a shattering blow to her wits? Briony thinks she knows the answers, and they mean she must follow her rules unfailingly. When lion-boy Eldric comes to town, though, she begins to neglect her rules. And isn't that when dreadful things happen? Or is something deeper and darker at foot in Briony's sleepy swampside town?
The beauty of this story is almost impossible to describe. Franny Billingsey's writing is magnificently gorgeous and the story plays out with exquisite detail against the dark background of the swamp. Best for ages fourteen and up.
Cat Patrick emerged as a recognized young adult author fairly recently, with her 2012 debut Forgotten, which tells the story of a girl who remembers the future instead of the past. This was followed quickly by Revived, the tale of a girl who has died five times and been repeatedly brought back to life. It is apparent to her fans that Ms. Patrick isn't scared of addressing experimental themes- and her latest young adult novel, The Originals, more than lives up to this reputation. The Originals is the story of Elizabeth Best, or rather, of Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best- three clones, who masquerade (under their mother's orders) as a single girl named Elizabeth. They split their day into three equal parts, and never leave the house together. Life wasn't always like this for the girls, who used to live like identical triplets. But their mother is hiding something- something that caused this greater level of secrecy to become necessary. The Best girls deal with their strange life pretty well, all things considered. They've become adept at blending in, at pretending to be someone they're not: Elizabeth. But everything changes when rebellious Lizzie falls in love, causing each Best girl to realize that she yearns to embrace life as an individual. But will the girls ever be free of the shadow of Elizabeth? Can they ever be originals? This book is a phenomenal look at the concepts of individuality, as well as a fantastic coming-of-age read. Don't miss it! Best for ages twelve and up.
In her new novel Beta, celebrated author Rachel Cohn brings us another look at humanity through the concept of cloning. Beta is set in the future, on the island of Demesne. Demesne is literally the most luxurious place on earth, an island paradise whose very air and water are designed to keep its residents happy and healthy. The population of Demesne are wealthy survivors of Earth's Water Wars, elite citizens who have been granted the luxury of, well... luxury. But on an island full of the world's most privileged people, who does the work?
Clones. Violet-eyed and marked with special facial tattoos, Demesne's workforce is created by cloning dead humans and then removing the soul of the resulting being. Demesne's ultra-privileged residents can then be served by beings with no free will or pesky individual character. But Demesne didn't count on Elysia. Elysia is a Beta: one of the first ever teenage clones to be created. The gorgeous, polite ideal of what a Demesne clone should be, Elysia is snapped up immediately after her creation, purchased by a wealthy woman to serve as a nanny for her young daughter, a training partner for her teenage son, and a replacement for her eldest daughter, who has just left Demesne to attend college. Elysia is perfectly comfortable in her new home- after all, what does she care? Clones don't feel, right? Well, as it turns out, things aren't that simple. Not only does Elysia have strange, shadowy memories, she has a sense of taste, compassion, morality, and curiosity- all things that clones shouldn't have, placing her in a serious quandary: if she asserts her humanity, she will be branded as a Defect, tortured, and killed. But if she doesn't, she will be forced to live out the rest of her life being treated as an unfeeling object, and she will never find what she desires most: love.
Beta is a haunting look at what it means to be human, and what it means to have a soul- not to mention the start of what is sure to be a phenomenal young adult series. Best for ages fourteen and up.
Sloane Margaret Jameson (Sloane) is an average high schooler, a straight-A student with a two brothers, caring parents, and a best friend.Sloane Margaret Jameson (Maggie) is a young New York actress whose career is on the rise, a starlet with a little sister, a mother she can't count on, and no real friends to speak of.Every single night, Sloane and Maggie dream each other's lives. They each live one life during waking hours, and an entirely different one while they sleep. They each have their own ways of coping (Sloane keeps it a secret while Maggie sees a psychologist), but in the end, they're pretty used to their odd existence. Each assumes that the other is imaginary: after all, they've tried to seek each other out, without ever yielding results. But one day, after almost eighteen years of their peacefully mingled existence, Sloane and Maggie's relationship changes. They start seeing people from the wrong lives. Why is Maggie being sought out by Sloane's dead friend, Bill? Why is Sloane being attacked by Maggie's agent (and ex-boyfriend), Thomas? Is one of them awake? Is one of them dreaming? Or are they both just descending slowly into insanity?Lucid is a haunting, beautiful, and gripping book that will leave you awake late at night, devouring the last pages long after everyone else is already dreaming. Best for ages fourteen and up.
Love is important to seventeen-year-old Astrid Jones. Perhaps that's because she doesn't get much of it at home, ever since her family moved to tiny, closed-minded Unity Valley. Her mother stopped caring about her as soon as Astrid stepped out of her mega-achieving shadow; her dad spends most of his time getting high; and her younger sister Ellis has turned into a mean stereotype of a small-town girl. To make up for her failing relationships with her family, Astrid spends much of her time lying on picnic tables and staring at airplanes, sending all of her love to their passengers- after all, they won't reject it. (She also has frequently-occuring imaginary conversations with Socrates, but that's another story). But there's another reason that love has been on Astrid's mind lately- Dee Roberts. Astrid is captivated by the beautiful, funny, and talented field hockey player, who seems to understand Astrid like no one ever has before. But if Dee is a lesbian, and Astrid is in love with her... well, that makes Astrid a lesbian as well, doesn't it? And in a town as judgemental and vicious as Unity Valley, how can Astrid ever open up enough to be herself, or fall in love?
This is a beautiful, touching, and heartbreaking novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has ever felt even a little bit like an outcast. Astrid is so real and compelling as a narrator that readers won't be able to help giving her all of the love that she deserves. Best for ages fourteen and up.
Blue Sargent is devastatingly normal, the only non-gifted member of a large family of psychics. But that's all right- she has long since come to terms with her seemingly mundane humanity; content to make her life unique in more ordinary ways. That all changes when Blue accompanies her mysterious aunt to a midnight vigil in a graveyard on St. Mark's Eve, when the gifted can see the souls of those who will die in the next year. Blue is shocked when she, a non-seer, is greeting by the flickering form of a boy, a spirit who tells her only his name- Gansey- before disappearing. Blue knows that there are only two reasons why a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve. The lore of the gifted says that either the boy is her true love, or she will be the one to kill him. But for Blue, it isn't that simple- Gansey could be both.Meanwhile, a group of local prep-school boys are tracking something powerful and dangerous, something that will change their lives, and Blue's, forever.Readers will be enthralled by Maggie Stiefvater's darkly compelling novel, which features characters with lives so utterly grounded in the real world that the metaphysical forces that touch them are clearly only part of the picture. Best for ages twelve and up.
Margo Lanagan, the amazing Printz-honor-winning author of Tender Morsels, has done it again. Known for her dark and dismally beautiful works, Lanagan will not disappoint previous readers or new audiences with her gorgeously crafted new novel about the seal-women of Rollrock Island; a take on the old legends of the selkies.
For years, the men of Rollrock have fetched their wives from the sea in the form of seals, coaxing them from their skins and then keeping them bound to the land. But for this they need the assistance of the widely feared witch Misskaela Prout, who has played a greater part in the practice than most know. And there will be consequences of these unions of man and sea-maid that none but the witch could possibly foresee.
Margo Lanagan's beautiful novel will capture readers who are looking for something odd and entrancing. Best for readers ages fourteen and up.
In a world where everyone must fit themselves into one of five factions, choices about how to live your life are extremely limited. Sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior has more choices than most: when she takes the compulsory test that is supposed to reveal a sixteen-year-old’s suitability for a certain faction, her results are “inconclusive”. She shows equal ability for membership in Abnegation, the selfless faction of her birth; Dauntless, the courageous faction that has always fascinated her; and Erudite, the so-called “genius” faction that she despises. In a nutshell, she is Divergent.
When Beatrice chooses a faction, Dauntless, the hard part is supposed to be over. But the truth is far from it. If Beatrice, now calling herself Tris, wants to be Dauntless, she must rank in the top ten of her group of initiates, some of whom have been preparing for this all of their lives. The rankings are decided by violent fights, random acts of daring and idiocy, excruciatingly painful tests that delve into the fabric of your fears, and frankly, whether or not those in charge despise you. In the weeks that follow her choice, Tris must remake herself in the image of the Dauntless, figure out a complicated relationship with an enigmatic instructor named Four, and most of all, watch her back: Divergence isn’t safe, and there are people who want her dead.
Divergent is a fascinating read, and is entirely un-put-downable. The realistic and utterly human characters of Tris, Four, and their friends and family, as well as their intriguing world, draw in you into the story and keep you there. It is a fresh and show-stopping addition to the ranks of teen literature, and is sure to delight anyone who is tired of the same-old, same-old.
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in almost a year, when she accidentally caused the death of a small boy in a grocery store. Since that day, she has been locked in one of the Reestablishment’s prisons, trapped in the confines of white room that she can never leave. The reason why? Her touch is excruciating painful- and often fatal- to others. Even before her imprisonment, she led a life of solitude and estrangement, ostracized by her parents because of her gifts. But her life is changed forever when a boy named Adam enters it. Juliette doesn’t know what to make of Adam. Is he a fellow prisoner- or does he work for the Reestablishment? If he Juliette’s friend- or her enemy? And can she possibly be falling in love with him? Juliette doesn’t know the answers to any of these questions. But the one thing she does know about Adam is the most confusing of all- he is somehow immune to her touch.
Shatter Me is a breathtaking dystopian imagining, the heartbreaking but beautiful story of a girl who has hungered for one thing all her life- the touch of another human being.
Since the death of her father, young Liesl has been trapped in her stepmother’s attic, drawing pictures and dreaming of a place she and her father called home long ago. Her lonely existence is interrupted when she meets Po, a similarly lonely ghost who takes an interest in Liesl, her drawings, and the world of the living. Meanwhile, a young alchemist’s apprentice named Will has accidentally switched a wooden box of the world’s most powerful magic for a wooden box containg the ashes of Liesl’s father. When Liesl’s stepmother attempts the murder of her stepdaughter, and Will’s master discovers his apprentice’s great mistake, the two children (and Po) must run away together to find Liesl’s old home, carrying only a wooden box (which one?) and following only Liesl’s hazy memories.
Liesl and Po is a beautiful story to be enjoyed by those of all ages, a tale that never loses its hope no matter how dark the situation seems. It is an extraordinary testament to the powers of friendship, hope, and a child’s dreams.
Elephants calm Jade down. That's why she starts watching the live zoo camera from her bedroom: just to help relieve some of the pent-up anxiety caused by Panic Disorder. She isn't looking for anything that's going to change her life- there's already plenty of that going around, what with her parents' growing hostility and her friends growing apart, not to mention her own growing feeling of being trapped in her too-small life. No, Jade isn't looking for change. But she sure finds it in Sebastian Wilder, a boy who appears almost every evening outside the elephant enclosure, catching Jade's eye with the red jacket that brightens the elephant camera screen, and the baby he usually carries with him. When Jade falls hard for Sebastian, she becomes entangled in his strange life, getting to know his grandmother, his baby, and his story. As their lives become more and more intertwined, and Jade begins to feel freer from her illness, she feels more and more that this is meant to be. But is she ready to step this far outside her comfort zone?
Beautiful and believable, Jade's struggle to figure out how to live her life is touching, funny, and bittersweet, and will resonate deeply with anyone who has ever felt afraid and has had to face their fears. Best for ages fourteen and up
All right, doubters. I know you're scoffing at the title. I did, too. But the lives of the girls and women portrayed in The Secret Life of Prince Charming are no fairy tale. Quinn Hunt, her little sister Sprout Hunt, and her half-sister Frances Lee Giofranco have a problem. That problem's name is Barry Hunt, and he is, for better or worse, their father. Quinn has always gotten along all right with her father, though Sprout's angry outbursts occasionally threaten their fragile peace. Frances Lee is another story. Frances and Barry's mutual dislike is strong enough that Barry has taken to pretending that his eldest daughter doesn't even exist. But the shaky sort of balance maintained by this multinuclear family is upset when Quinn discovers that for years her father, a notorious heartbreaker, has been collecting trophies: he has taken something of value from every woman he was ever involved with, from his high school girlfriend to the girls' mothers. Quinn knows that she can't just let this slide, not even for the sake of preserving her relationship with her father. And so the three girls, armed with Sprout's pink emergency cell phone and a couple of lies involving Disneyland, begin a "karmic quest" to return the stolen objects and learn the truth about their father, setting off on a whirlwind road trip in Frances Lee's temperamental pickup truck, accompanied by a teen musician who is NOT a bad boy and a ten-foot-tall Big Boy statue.
Quinn's karmic quest is an eye-opener. And not only for the characters, but also for readers. The Secret Life of Prince Charming is a heartfelt revelation about right and wrong, love, and what makes a family. Once again, Deb Caletti nails it. Best for ages fourteen and up.
The year is 1900, the location is New England. A strict Church rules with an iron fist, and girls who are deemed suspiscious by other locals are tried as witches. Sound familiar? Yes, but it's not that simple. While the plot of Jessica Spotswood's debut novel screams 'Salem Witch Trials', the world in which it takes place is fictional. In Spotswood's world, the country of New England has closed its borders due to an impending war with Indo-China. New England is ruled by the Brotherhood, a government of priests who came to power by destroying the Daughters of Persephone, the witches who originally ruled the land.
Cate Cahill is nearing her sixteenth birthday, when she must declare either a betrothal or an intent to join the Sisters, the convent arm of the Brotherhood. In the wake of her mother's recent death, Cate is panic-stricken as she struggles to arrive at some sort of decision about her future, while dealing with an absent father, two headstrong younger sisters, and a new governess. Not to mention one teeny-tiny little problem: Cate Cahill and her sisters Maura and Tess are witches.
Born Wicked is a superbly exciting story that neatly blends together elements of historical fiction and fantasy to create a world that is both fantastical and believable. Best for readers ages twelve and up.