Childhood Favorites

As a librarian I am constantly encouraging other readers to try some of the popular stories from my childhood. The ones that I still have in my personal collection that I pick up when I want to revisit the familiar worlds and favorite people.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Alien Secrets | Annette Curtis Klaus | 1999

aliensecretsAlien Secrets was one of my favorite science fiction adventures. It featured a young independent girl, Puck, who craved adventure, but also missed her parents. She had spirit and a lonely soul that allowed her to show kindness to another person who remained the ‘outsider’.

Puck meets a young alien on board of a space ship and decides to help him in his mission of finding his stolen property. It soon escalates into a dangerous adventure that touches upon slavery and appropriation of cultures.

Of course the adults can’t be trusted, but that’s part of what makes it a great novel for tweens and teens. I enjoy going back to re-read Puck’s adventure (and I still want a sequel).

Heir Apparent | Vivian Vande Velde | 2002

I will admit that a lot of my childhood reading was focused on Vivian Vande Velde. She was able to capture the strong female character that I wanted to be. They were always witty, vulnerable, and strong enough to reach their goals.

heir

Heir Apparent is more comedy laced with science fiction. Giannine has parents that are more wrapped in their own drama than their daughter so that’s how she ends up alone in a virtual reality arcade playing a game via that gift certificate her father had his secretary mail to her. It turns out that the protestors outside of the arcade have caused damage to the servers and now she has to beat the game or suffer brain damage due to overheating.

It’s fun. She deals with the situations with a  dry humor, but the frustration is there. I still find myself laughing at the jokes no matter how many times I re-read the book.

 

Dragon’s Bait | Vivian Vande Velde | 1997

baitI mentioned my love for Velde right? Dragon’s Bait was one of the books that first instilled my love for dragons. And really became the book that I compare all other dragon books to.

Alys is a teen who just wants her father to get better, their local village has been inflicted with a coughing sickness that has been a cause of recent deaths. She remains optimistic that their situation will improve. Of course that’s when a rival businessman calls a priest in to discredit Alys and make her to be a witch. Which is how she ends up tied to a stake and left out for a dragon to eat.

That’s when things get interesting. Alys makes a bargain with the dragon, who can shift shapes into all beasts (including humans), for revenge against those who have wronged her. It’s a short book, but fabulous.

Howl’s Moving Castle | Diana Wynne Jones | 2001

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This is the book that I stayed in the car to finish reading as my parents went into the restaurant to eat. This is the book that when it was over I immediately sighed with pleasure and went back to page one. I loved everything about this novel, from the sarcastic protagonist to the demon bound in the fireplace.

Which makes it all the worse by the horrible anime that happened. I felt like the anime just took tiny pieces of the book and then made it about anti-war. When I read the book I felt that the characters were the story. And how while me might think that because we are the oldest we have to take care of everyone, that those places that society has in mind for us aren’t true. And we can break social constraints to find our own paths. That’s what made me love the book and that’s why I still recommend it to people.

Companions of the Night | Vivian Vande Velde | 1996

night

When people ask me about good vampire books I always point them to this novel. It has a vampire that fully admits to killing people and enjoying it. While he is almost the anti-hero, the romance is secondary to what is happening in the story.

Kerry lives with her little brother and her dad. Her mother just left the family and took the washer and dryer which is how Kerry ends up the laundromat in the middle of the night, her young brother leaves his favorite stuffed animal there and though she just got her learner’s permit she goes to the laundromat to fetch the animal.

What should have been a simple task ends up with her being held hostage with a tied up college boy by people who think they are vampire hunters. Turns out the boy is actually a vampire and by helping him escape Kerry has put herself and her family into extreme danger. She pairs up with the vampire to help rescue her family.

Again short story, but beautiful. I wish Vivian Vande Velde wrote sequels!

5 Sequels I can’t wait to get my hands on

I’m a big fan of series. When I fall in love with a character and their world, I fall hard. And when I am really into a book series all I can think about is the next book (and re-reading the previous ones). So here are 5 sequels that I can’t wait to read, by release Date:

November 2014

Title: Reap the Wind/ Author: Karen Chance/ Genre: Urban Fantasy/Price: $7.99/ISBN:  978-0451419071/ Page Count: 432/Series: Book 7 in Cassandra Palmer Series

reapthewind

This series features a powerful young woman who was raised by vampires after her parents died. The vampire who raised Cassie used her for her powerful visions to make money off disasters (he is a vampire mob boss). It follows her through the journey of understanding her magic and family heritage.

I’ve been reading the series since it’s first publication and I can’t get enough of it. There are a few romantic interests but it really comes down to two male leads. One is an angry warrior magician the other a powerful and old vampire.

This is an adult series so there is sex, violence, and graphic material.

Title: The MissingAuthor:  Sarah Beth Durst/ Genre: Fantasy/Magic Realism/Price: $14.95/ISBN:  978-0778317128/ Page Count: 400/Series: Book 2 in Lost Trilogy

missing

I fell in love with this new series with her first book, The Lost. The books follow Lauren who is a young woman trying to understand the cards that life has dealt her.

The writing is almost like a dream which works perfectly with the mystical land that Lauren finds herself in. Where everything that has been lost falls to, including people, objects, places, and even oceans.

The people who are living in Lost can’t leave until they find what they have lost. This could be love, family, health, etc. Lost is like a holding town for people trying to make sense of of their life.

Gorgeous setting and character relationships.

January 2015

Title: The Mime OrderAuthor: Samantha Shannon/ Genre: Urban Fantasy/Price: $25.00/ISBN:  978-1620408933/ Page Count: 320/Series: Book 2 in Bone Season Series

mimeorder

The Mime Order is set in a futuristic London where all magic has been outlawed. If you are discovered using magic then you are hunted down where you can either be imprisoned, murdered, or worked as slave for the organization hunting others like you.

It’s not magic like wizards or witches, but more like psychics. Some people can control ghosts, others can go into dreamscapes and control you. It depends where you fall on the spectrum.

In the first book you meet Paige who hides her magical identity through the protection of a gang. However within the first part of the book she is captured.

I loved the first book, but I did notice on my re-read that there were some problems. The romance seemed to come from no where and while Shannon really seemed to want to develop her secondary characters they fell wayside once the action started picking up. However, the setting and main characters are very intriguing and I can’t wait for this sequel.

March 2015

Title: Vision in SilverAuthor: Anne Bishop/ Genre: Urban Fantasy/Price: $26.95/ISBN:  978-0451465276/ Page Count: 368/Series: Book 3 in The Others Series

silver

I talked about my appreciation for The Other’s Series in my January Books Highlight and I must say that book 2 in the series delivered just as well as book one.

What’s awesome about this series are the characters. Here you have the supernatural community living as a community and ruling the human kind. It’s a horrible tension of humans knowing that they are food to the “others” but wanting to live and thrive. The main character is working as a bridge between the two cultures and charming those around her.

Bishop is REALLY good at multiple povs. It’s rare to find a series where changing perspectives enhances the storytelling and relationships between the main protagonists. I will be reading this series for as long as Bishop continues to write it.

Title: Shadow ScaleAuthor: Rachel Hartman/ Genre: YA Fantasy/Price: $18.99/ISBN:  978-0375866579/ Page Count: 480/Series: Book 2 in Seraphina Series

shadow

I feel as if I have waited light years to read the sequel to one of my favorite books, Seraphina, but I am sure that it will be worth the wait.

What initially captured my attention for Seraphina was the dragon lore. I have a soft spot for dragons that I will credit Vivian Vande Velde’s book Dragon’s Bait for fostering in me as a young reader.

In Seraphina dragons and humans have an uneasy alliance. Dragons and humans have long waged war against each other, but through a truce they are now operating in a somewhat peaceful state. The dragons in this world can change into humans and live among them.

Seraphina is a young musician to the royal court and she has a dangerous secret (I’ll give you a hint, it deals with dragons) that she protects by secluding herself from all personal relationships. Needless to say this doesn’t work for long or there wouldn’t be a book.

I tell everyone I know to read this book, but also listen to the audio book. Since music is such a huge part of the storytelling it’s great to be able to hear the music that they talk about. I can’t recommend this book enough.

So those are 5 of the sequels that I am eagerly awaiting. Any on there that you are waiting for? Or is there a sequel that’s not up there that you can’t wait to talk about?

 

June Books+Highlight

In June I read 13 books! They are as followed, Ink by Amanda Sun, Shadow by Amanda Sun, Rain by Amanda Sun, Champion by Marie Lu, The Wizard’s Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke, The Wallflower by Tomoko Hayakawa volume 19, A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn, Legacy of Tril: Soulbound by Heather Brewer, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, The Unbound by Victoria Schwab, The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst, Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead, and Silver Phoneix by Cindy Pon.

I really, really loved The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst and may do a blog post dedicated to her series, but The Paper God series by Amanda Sun has a special place in my bookworm heart and I feel that it doesn’t get enough love…so that’s my highlight for June.

Paper Gods series by Amanda Sun

sun.shadow sun.ink sun.rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Paper Gods series is set in Japan, Shadow is a novella prequel to the first two books in the series. Shadow was available to read for free online, however I do not know if that promotion is still going, here is the link to Amanda Sun’s website for Shadow: LINK. Ink is the first book and Rain takes place almost immediately after the end of Ink. I recommend reading Shadow first because it provides context for some of the actions that happen in Ink.

The series follows Katie Green, an American teenager who moves to Japan to live with her Aunt after her mother passes away. Katie has a hard time transitioning to life in Japan since her grief over the death of her mother is still very present and raw.

She starts to make friends and then encounters Tomo, a dangerous young man who has some scary secrets about himself. The two are drawn together through a connection they can’t explain or deny. As Tomo’s hidden talents start to manifest in uncontrollable ways, they try to work and find a solution.

Part of the charm of the story is the setting. I really enjoyed reading a story that was set somewhere besides America or the UK. It was a refreshing change of scenery and Amanda Sun shows that she has done her research through her story and world building. I also enjoyed the inclusion of Japanese words and the glossary in the back.

I have to say I have read Ink two times already and the second time I read it I liked it even more, which is something that I can’t always say about books.

Strange Chemistry

You may have heard that Angry Robot is discontinuing their YA imprint Strange Chemistry, here is the press release: LINK

Now I could list the reasons why this makes me sad, upset, disappointed but I want to focus on one really good thing that came from the Strange Chemistry publications and that is author Cassandra Rose Clarke.

TWP_medium pirates_wish_big TheAssassin'sCurse-big

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve read her 3 YA books, all are set in in the same magical universe where pirates and witches are the norm.

The Assassin’s Curse has two main characters, Ananna and Naji. Ananna is the daughter of a powerful pirate family and has just been arranged marriage, she skips town and leaves her family behind. Feeling dishonored the family she was engaged to sends Naji, a deadly assassin. By a weird chance the two end up bound together, a curse that they set out to destroy. It’s a magical and fun adventure. The Pirate’s Wish concludes their story.

Wizard’s Promise focuses on Hanna who is the daughter of a former lady pirate and a fisherman. All Hanna wants is to become a proper witch but she is apprenticed to a “grumpy fisherman”. Okay so I will admit that I actually enjoyed this more than the first two books, but that’s because I thought the grumpy old fisherman would have more interaction between Hanna and while he does play an important part in this journey (he is the one that sets the boat off course) it didn’t end up being what I thought it would be (whooaa long sentence). This is book 1 in a new series, that I don’t know when will be complete, but I truly think that Hanna still has so much more to say and do. I would talk more about what I really liked and why I think there has to be more to the story…but then there would be spoilers.

Essentially I am sad to hear about Strange Chemistry but I will be following Cassandra Rose Clarke to whatever platform she uses to publish her work and I encourage all of you to check out her works currently published!

 

May Books + Highlight

Time for MAY BOOKS! haha I am catching up! June books will be published on the blog at the beginning of July. In May I read 7 books, The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron, A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron, The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart by Leanna Renee Hieber, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Delia’s Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer, Prodigy by Marie Lu, and Hidden: A child’s story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano, and Greg Salsedo. I am going to talk about The Winner’s Curse and what I liked about it and what I didn’t like.

Genre: YA Dystopia/Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Price: $17.99/ISBN: 978-0374384678/ Page Count: 368/Series: Yes, book one in Winner’s Trilogy.

winnerscurse

Winner’s Curse has two main characters, Kestrel and Arin. Kestrel is the daughter of a powerful General and Arin is the slave she buys at market. Kestrel is part of the conquering society and Arin was one of the nation they conquered and thus enslaved. Kestrel has doesn’t like slavery, but she makes no moves to put an end to it. Really her only acts of rebellion are continuing her music lessons and avoiding marrying/joining the military. Kestrel quickly falls for Arin’s quick wit and humor. Arin…well he has plans that are alluded to and come to fruition later.

I was initially captured by the cover and wanted to read it because it was so gorgeous, but this book took me 3 months to read. It was really difficult and a lot of times I had to put it down. What bothered me was the consent issues in the book. Kestrel owns Arin and while she never truly initiates a romantic relationship with him, their romance really bothered me. Could he truly consent to this love when he is owned by her? It was a question that continued to plague me. I would have rathered them to have a friendship and her fighting for the rebellion, freedom for the enslaved people. Instead I was deeply disappointed.

However that is not to say that the book was bad. I believe that the author was true to the character. Kestrel wants to make her own life and decisions but due to her militant upbringing it is hard for her to act on those desires. Thus the actions fit the character perfectly. With further development I think Kestrel would be able to become an individual who recognizes the flaws in her government and makes the actions to change them.

 

 

February Books + Spotlight

I totally flaked and missed talking about February books! Skipped right to March. Probably because in February I only 2 books! I read Frozen by Melissa De la Cruz  & Michael Johnston and First Born by Lorie Ann Grover (this one was an ARC provided to me at the ALA midwinter conference).

So let’s talk about Frozen (not to be confused with the Disney animated movie).

Genre: YA dystopia/fantasy/Price: $17.99/ISBN: 978-0399257544/ Page Count: 336/Series: Yes, book one in Heart of Dread series.

frozendelacruz

The premise is that the world collapsed due to freak weather and now we are in a semi ice age.  There are two main characters Nat and Wes. And you guessed it, they have a complicated romantic tension. Romance is a huge hitter in the series. The journey for the story and how the two are thrown together is this, Nat is looking to get out of Vegas and Wes happens to be a smuggler/criminal and the only one cocky enough to try and get her to “The Blue” (a mystical land of promise).

This could be considered straight dystopia if not for the sideways fantasy weaved into the storytelling. But by the end of the novel fantasy has become to main conflict and how the two authors transition to that is great.

What I appreciated about this book was that there are no love triangles (I really get burnt out by that in YA) and that it isn’t just one genre. I will be giving the rest of the series a read once it comes out, or rather when I can get my hands on them.

 

April Books+Highlight

I swear I will totally get on top of these monthly book updates, but until that day, here are my April books! I read 12 books in April! Doll Bones by Holly Black, Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, The Unusual Suspects by Michael Buckley, Ebooks and the School Library Program: A Practical Guide for the School Librarian by Cathy Leverkus and Shannon Acedo (professional book yay), The Problem Child by Michael Buckley, Once Upon a Crime by Michael Buckley, Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, Raven Flight by Juliet Mariller, Chocolat Volume 8, Wizard Undercover by K.E. Mills, Kitty and the Midnight Hour by Carrie Vaughn, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.

I read a ton of really great books during April. My top 3 would have to Michael Buckley’s Sister’s Grimm Series, K.E. Mill’s Wizard Undercover (are you looking for a funny high fantasy book, because this is a perfect blend of humor, urban fantasy, mysteries, and high fantasy, read it), and Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Okay. So I totally want to do blog posts to properly highlight K.E. Mills and Michael Buckley’s series but Holly Black’s book is April’s highlight because it blew me away.

Genre: YA Vampires/Price: $19.00/ISBN: 978-0-316-21310-3/ Page Count: 419/Series: Not that I am aware of (but I so wish it was).

coldgirl

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is about a girl that ends up traveling to the city of vampires with her infected ex boyfriend and an insane vampire.

The premise of the book confused me every time that I read the dust jacket, but the main idea is that the world knows about vampires. And while some people see vampires as sexy romantic characters, the general population see it as a disease that must be quarantined into Coldtowns (vampires are cold, don’t you know).

Tana is in high school and was at a party. She wakes up in the morning hung over and pretty much wandering where everyone is (she passed out in the bathroom) only to find everyone dead. Vampires came into the party and ate everyone. Except when she goes into a bedroom she finds a chained up vampire and her ex boyfriend.

The crazy journey starts there. The three of them travel towards Coldtown (where vampires live and where the infected people-in transition can go-).

This book is Holly Black at her BEST. It totally engrossed me and I couldn’t put it down the whole time I was reading the book. The ending was perfect in that the story was resolved, but not really. You were left satisfied but it was open to interpretation, but not in the annoying way that other books have been (I’m looking at you Sunshine). 

I seriously can’t rave about this book enough. Everyone needs to go buy it, but not from amazon because it’s still a shit storm up there. Go to your local indie store! Or better yet, buy it from the store and then donate it to the public library. JUST READ IT (if you like complicated characters and relationships with vampires thrown in there as a big ass metaphor).