Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
In a teen market overcrowded with dark, brooding supernatural novels,
"Halo" stands out as something different. If the bright, liquid-gold light beckoning from the cover doesn't pull your eyes away from the black, angsty covers surrounding it, its premise will surely grab the attention of the reader looking for something "different." The novel initially caught my attention due to the fact that even though it was dealing with the supernatural theme of angels currently being made popular by smash hits such as Becca Fitzpatrick's "Hush, Hush" and Lauren Kate's "Fallen," the angels in "Halo" are still messengers of God.
The book revolves around Bethany, a young angel visiting Earth for the first time, her brother Gabriel, an Arch Angel, and sister Ivy, a seraphim. The three messengers have descended in human form in order to combat the forces of evil infiltrating mankind. It takes a lot of time for them to adjust to life as "humans," especially Bethany, who is experiencing everything anew. She is more "human" than the other angels and is able to share their emotions, which leads her into trouble when she falls for a mortal boy at her new school.
"Halo" is full of rich, vibrant detail that paints an image in the reader's mind. It's easy to envision the kind of world the angels came from and to see our own society through their eyes. The way Bethany viewed Earth felt very natural, like something an angel would think. Alexandra Adornetto masterfully wove words together to create such a cohesive point of view that never felt forced the way some other novels do.
Readers looking for a romantic focus with a lighter form of the supernatural thrown into the mix will find themselves intrigued by the latest novel to enter the teen market. It's different from anything out there and might very well pave the way for other such stories. It's also nice to see books coming out this fall where it is the female main character who is a supernatural being and that the male she winds up falling for is mortal and not necessarily a brooding bad boy, first with Sophie Jordan's "Firelight" and now with "Halo."
The Unwanteds Lisa McMann's new series for younger audiences is going to be a big hit. The beginning is a bit dark but once you are past the first 10 pages you will be hooked. Imagine a world where when you turn 13 your future is decided- wanted and you go on to government or science or unwanted and you go to your death. Your family puts you on a bus to go to the lake of boiling oil and all you can hope for is a quick end. The good news is that the end is really the beginning for these creative kids and they soon discover that they are going to a wonderful magical world , carefully hidden, where their creativity is cherished and they will learn the arts and magic. The academy has talking mirrors, transportation tubes and magic everywhere.
The kids must learn their magical weaponry quickly in case their world is discovered
and attacked. The first of many books to come and I can see anyone who is a Harry Potter, Narnia, Percy Jackson fan loving this.
Angel Burn The first of three (every YEA book is a trilogy right?) L.A. Weatherly takes angels to a new level- that of the destroyers of the Earth and mankind.
Pretty but quirky Willow knows that she is different- likes antique clothing and is psychic but she has no idea that she is part angel until she reads the palm of a classmate and sees something really bad. Alex has grown up as an AK (angel killer) and sees himself as the terminator of all things angel until he gets a message from the CIA to go after Willow. He can't kill her until she feeds off a human and gives them "angel burn" which oddly enough seems like someone in a religious fervor or schizophrenia. Willow's mom has been this way for as long as anyone can remember and Willow has grown up taking care of her. The angels are trying to take over the world and Alex has to stop them but Willow is only part angel and is a threat to their evil plan. The action moves the story quickly and you will get to like the characters as they fall for each other. No real adult themes so it is OK for younger teens and lovers of Twilight and The Hunger Games. The only part of the story that I felt was a bit overdone was the romantic intanglement in the end. I am looking forward to part II which is due out this Fall.
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
What would you do if the guy you fell in love with came from a family that wanted to kill you? Sophie Jordan’s Firelight explores this concept, bringing a new type of fantasy to the currently packed supernatural star-crossed romance tables. Instead of vampires or werewolves or fallen angels, we’re introduced to draki, a being descended from the dragons who is able to take on a human form and live among us undetected.
One of the best things about Firelight is the fact that it’s the female main character, Jacinda, who is the mythical being. Lately, it’s pretty much guaranteed that the supernatural being is male, while the female is mortal. In this case, however, even Will, the guy Jacinda falls in love with, is more than he appears. He comes from a family of hunters intent on killing the draki, though he has more of a conscious and hates what he is.
The star-crossed duo find themselves falling in love at first sight once Jacinda moves away from her brethren and enrolls at the local high school. At first, our heroine tries to stay away from Will, knowing who and what he is, but finds the task impossible, especially since being near him means remaining in tune with the draki within. One of the reasons she had to move away was because of an incident that happened that nearly exposed the pride. They have a terrible future in store for her, and to protect her, Jacinda’s mother moved everyone into the desert, hoping to kill the draki part of her daughter.
I don’t want to spoil much about the plot, but I will say that if you pick this up, expect to wait for a sequel. This book isn’t a stand-alone, and ends on a note that had me pulling at my hair. Firelight sucked me in right from the start. The imagery and detail is vivid, especially when Jacinda manifests from human to draki. It was also interesting to read about the plight of Jacinda’s twin sister, Tamra, who was never able to transform. In this new world of high school, it is she who is special and stands-out, not her sister, the last fire-breather in the pride.
If you’re sick of supernatural romances with the same over-used plot and cliché characters, Firelight is a refreshing change of pace. It’s still full of fantasy, but manages to add a new type of character to the mix. It’s a compelling read that will instantly have readers begging for more, and guaranteed to have knock-offs nipping at its heels if it takes off with readers looking for something a little bit different these days.
The Flynn City Egg Man It's Easter 1969, and no one is more excited than Cyrus Flannery, the eccentric peddler known as, The Flynn City Egg Man. He's packed up the old panel truck with Easter goodies, and if everyone forgives him for his past business dealings, he just might make the rent this year. It all looks good until...Sandy True, the head cheerleading diva, and maximus drama queen of Flynn City High decides to plot a kidnapping. Her own kidnapping It may allow her time to get to Hollywood, and seek her dream of becoming an actress.
The last person she was seen with happens to be The Flynn City Egg Man, and Sandy's boyfriend, Tyler Armstrong has plans of the peddler. If the cops can't help, Armstrong will take matters into his own hands. After all, it was blood he saw in the Egg Man's kitchen.
Cuffy Landers, a seventeen-year-old reluctant hero enters the fray, and soon befriends the Egg Man. The two are pitted against a suspicious town, and a boyfriend who is hell-bent on revenge.
Recommended for adult, teen, and young adult reading with humor, suspense, and inspiration.
Thanks to Harry Potter, children's literature has exploded and entered a much-awaited golden age. There are now many talented authors entering the limelight with hundreds, if not thousands of new titles out there for our hungry little readers fresh from Hogwarts. Great as they may be, many tend to fall into a similar 'magical' formula that can make it difficult to tell them apart. The Mysterious Benedict Society Series, however takes the best of the old, the best of the new, and blends them into an exciting and brain teasing mystery. Four genius orphans are recruited to use their minds to solve mysteries in a whirlwind adventure to save the world. With real brainteasers mixed into the story, adults will enjoy this series just as much as kids. It's another great selection to fill that gaping Harry Potter void and make the separation that much more bearable.
Looking for a fun and engrossing read for your child or just something light and fun for yourself? Meet Daphne and Sabrina Grimm, two sisters who learn they are actually descendants of the Brothers Grimm. After their parents mysteriously disappear they go to live with their grandmother in Fairyport Landing, a town created by the Brothers Grimm to keep all of the everafters (fairytale characters) safe from the outside world. These books have appearances from all of your favorite fairytale characters (Snow White, Cinderella, The Big Bad Wolf, etc) and the girls solve fairytale mysteries and try to find out just what happened to their parents, while still trying to get along as sisters and adapt to this new life where fairytale characters are true, and even some live with them! These books are highly entertaining and easy to read, but also teach children vocabulary (younger sister Daphne continually asks sister Sabrina what words mean) and deal with issues of fairness, segregation, equality, and getting along with others. This is truly a wonderful series, Michael Buckley is a very talented writer. Look for his second series out this fall!
When I saw that Kate Morton released a second book, I couldn't wait to get my hands and eyes on it. House at Riverton had been a recommend from a fellow bookseller and, wary as I am of recommends, I read it. And I loved it. But The Forgotten Garden I loved even more.
Kate Morton has a knack for weaving the past and the present together, for spanning the continents, and for intricate character and plot details that have that "blink and you'll miss it" feel.
I devoured The Forgotten Garden. Cassandra in present-day Australia who, after her grandmother's death, is left a house in Cornwall, England. To Cassandra's grandmother, Nell, both as a child and as an adult, discovering her past. To the mysterious Mountrachet family and fairy tale Authoress Eliza Makepeace. Who is everyone? How are they connected? Who is Nell, really? And what will Cassandra learn about both her grandmother and herself along the way?
What I liked most about Morton's second novel is that it wasn't easy to figure out. The mystery shrouding the characters (each and every character, from a maid in the Mountrachet household, to Nell's parents in Australia, to a young gardener Cassandra meets) folds them all together and doesn't give anything away prematurely. I love figuring things out, but each time I thought I had something figured out, Morton added in another element. You would think with this many strings, the novel would be tangled and heavy, but that isn't the case at all. In fact, everything is necessary and everything comes to fruition.
I'd recommend this to anyone who likes to be surprised, who likes interweaving storylines, past and present, and -- well, really, anyone at all. It is phenomenal.
Love them or hate them, dystopian novels are what’s in. Solstice , while dystopian, is the sort of book that even dystopian haters will enjoy. Because the dystopian setting is just that—the setting, not the focal point. Because it’s also a fantasy novel. Because it’s also a retelling of Persephone and Hades. Because it’s an epic romance. Because there’s something magical about it that doesn’t quite exist in any other dystopian novel. Even if you dislike the genre (or are just sick of it), SOLSTICE is a stand-out that shouldn’t be ignored.
One of the most remarkable aspects of SOLSTICE’s journey to publication is the non-traditional route it took. While sold exclusively as an e-book at a very affordable $2.99 price-point, the novel is NOT self-published. Yes, you read that right. P.J. Hoover has written several traditionally-published novels, including the middle-grade trilogy THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS, which revolves around Atlantis (Yes, Atlantis!!) and will be re-released with new covers in e-book and paperback format later this year or in early 2012. Hoover was the first Andrea Brown Literary Agency author to have a book launch solely as an e-book. If they had waited to traditionally publish, the novel wouldn’t be out until 2013, but it’s right NOW that both dystopian novels and mythology-influenced ones are hot and selling. Hoover has a great two-part interview talking about why SOLSTICE took this route (Part 1,Part 2). Because of the way this book was published, it still went through normal rounds of editing and received a professionally-designed cover, so it’s not riddled with errors the way some straight-to-e-book novels are. In fact, SOLSTICE is one of my Ton Ten Novels so far this year. It’s that good.
I think what draws me into the world of SOLSTICE the most is the fact that all of the characters feel so real, so alive. The romance is gorgeous and at the novel’s conclusion, I just wanted more books. I wasn’t ready to leave Hoover’s world. There have been a lot of books revolving around the Persephone and Hades myth this year, including much-buzzed about teen novels Abandon by Meg Cabot (reviewed here) and The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter (reviewed here). Both of those novels are the first in a trilogy that will explore the myth upon which they’re based. Some parts are truer to their mythological roots than others. But in both cases, the “Persephone” character was very by the book. She was forced to be with “Hades” against her will. SOLSTICE, on the other hand, offers a new way of looking at the classic myth. What if Persephone hadn’t been kidnapped? What if she’d gone to Hades willingly? What if the couple had been truly in love and there was a reason for her mother Demeter’s murderous rampage whenever her daughter went to the Underworld for half the year? This is the heart of SOLSTICE.
SOLSTICE takes place in a world where global warming has affected our climate to the point that it’s now referred to as the Global Heating Crisis. There is now year-round summer. Night-time is a “cool” 99 degrees (Fahrenheit) and an average day might be 113 degrees. After suffering this past week’s 100-106 degree heat wave, I would HATE living in a world where that’s the norm…at night. I’d melt faster than an ice-cream cone. It’s not until the temperature hits upward of 123 degrees that citizens have anything to worry about. There are designated cooling areas, a special cooling gel that gets sprayed throughout the day. There are also scary heat-bubbles. For example, “A real heat bubble means we could be stuck with deadly temperatures for weeks. The last time one of the pockets of hot air formed, the city was evacuated, and even then, almost a thousand people died. An evacuation is going to be nothing short of a disaster.” (Page 10)
There are special missiles to pop the heat bubbles, but they further damage the atmosphere and can kill. Piper (The novel’s “Persephone”) and her mother are against the use of these missiles, and we really get insight into her mother’s personality. She’s ultra-protective of Piper and doesn’t let her out much; she’s a true representation of Demeter in today’s world. She wants to keep her daughter at her side forever, despite everything, refusing to let her have a life of her own. When Piper starts noticing a boy in her class named Shayne, one she’s sat next to for a year but doesn’t recall previously meeting, her world changes and life as she knows it will never be the same again. Suddenly, she’s the center of a deadly love triangle between immortals, being courted by Fate, and in a world she never believed to exist.
Hoover twists familiar mythology together at a breath-taking pace for a page-turning adventure. Readers never quite know what’s coming next, and there’s always a new surprise in store. The mythology is flawless; I have nothing to nitpick about in that regard. The romance is deep and genuine. Shayne is Hades in a way that other novel retellings are unable to capture. SOLSTICE is officially my favorite version of Persephone and Hades, and one of my favorite mythological-retellings PERIOD. It’s that good. Even if you’re not a fan of e-books and don’t have an e-reader or tablet, this is one worth downloading and reading on your computer or your phone, especially at the $2.99 price point. Solstice is that good. I promise you won’t regret it!
To read a fun guest post about the dystopian elements in SOLSTICE, check out the fun guest post PJ Hoover did with me here.
Great new teen offering reminds me of a cross between C.S. Lewis and Narnia with the underlying creepiness of Hunger Games. Imagine Manor England where the facade is old but in reality anything modern is kept hidden and a prison where no one escapes but is born and dies within its walls. A crystal key acts as the only go between and communication tool between Claudia (the warden's daughter who has been bred to take over as Queen) and prisoner Finn (feels like he had a life outside the prison but can't remember much) They both will risk everything to reach each other and solve the mystery of what Incarceron is. This is a huge success over in England and it looks like the Brits are leading the pack in great teen books for the past 6 months. I like the mix of fairy tale and futuristic prison- reminds me of Jonathan Stroud or Neil Gaiman. This one works for younger readers as well who liked Eragon.
"...that Jane Austen is still alive today — as a vampire."
That's the premise of Jane Bites Back, the clever and highly amusing new novel from Michael Thomas Ford.
Jane Fairfax is the owner of Flyleaf Books, located in a sleepy little town in upstate New York. Jane Fairfax is also a 234-year-old vampire and the author of some of the most beloved works in English literature. Being undead isn't all it's cracked up to be, though. She hasn't seen a royalty check in centuries, while an entire industry cashes in on her fame with sequels, prequels, film adaptations, self-help books, and worst of all… finger puppets. Then, there's Constance, the novel Jane's been trying to publish since before her "death." One hundred sixteen rejection letters later, Jane finally hits on success, but at what price? Her carefully crafted existence is imperiled by the need to tour and promote her book; a scholar who knows Charlotte Brontë a little too well is threatening to expose her; and a mysterious figure from Jane's past returns to haunt her.
From beginning to end, Jane Bites Back was a fun, engaging read. Drawing on both the current vampire craze and the unstoppable wave of "Austenmania" which began with the 1995 adaptations of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, Ford successfully skewers them both. For readers who love English literature but aren't too sacrosanct about it, there's plenty to enjoy here. In addition to Austen, Lord Byron is a major character (and as big a literary rock star as ever!), serving as both irritant and potential romantic interest. Another major literary figure plays a key role in the novel, but to tell who would be to spoil a deliciously hilarious scene that comes at about the two-thirds mark.
Ford, best known for his gay-themed fiction and non-fiction, successfully makes the jump to 'chick lit' with Jane Bites Back. I've never read him before, but I was sufficiently impressed and entertained that I'm eagerly awaiting the next of his vampire Jane Austen novels, Jane Goes Batty.
Two things I absolutely love about this book:the premise and the cover!
Several things I really like about this book: I liked Nora and found her to be a complex character that I enjoyed reading about. I hope that in subsequent books more is written about how she deals with everything. I also really liked the character of Patch- he was so deliciously bad and I loved how he was always matching the darkness and was such a bad boy. Nora's best friend Vee is also a riot and I would love for her to be more than just a side character.
A few things I could complain about regarding this book: Loose ends all over the place. I am hoping that some of the things that were never resolved come up in the sequels. I would also love to know more about how some of the characters came to be (without revealing the plot).
I would recommend this to teens (or adults who like a good story) who like a good romance with some mystery. Like I said, the premise is great and that alone really sucked me in. I will be back for more!
I love love love the Sookie Stackhouse books! It's like jumping into someone else's weird world every time I read one. Each of Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Series books is deliciously entertaining and I have been enjoying reading about Sookie's life and adventures since book one!
Dead In The Family picks up after the Fairy War, which was traumatic for Sookie both mentally and physically. Things should be getting back to normal as she continues her steamy relationship with Eric, but trouble is always around the corner in Bon Temp, LA. Not only does Sookie have an unwanted house guest, but tensions are rising over the recently outted Shifters. Nothing is ever easy when Supes are involved.
These books are endlessly entertaining, but at the same time, not much happens throughout the book. Honestly, I like that. It's like peaking into Sookie's world and experiencing all of the weirdness with her. I now impatiently look forward to book 11 as Harris has kept my intrigue and has also set up a lot upon which to continue.
Mockingjay was the perfect end to a near perfect series. Even though I was slightly disappointed by the end of Catching Fire, I was pleasantly surprised at how Mockingjay addressed all the questions left up in the air at the end of Book 2. There was a point about 100 pages into Mockingjay, where I asked: How is Collins going to wrap up everything with so little time and space remaining? But she did, and she did it amazingly. Throughout Mockingjay, I was in a state of shocked awe at the risky, unique, intriguing concepts presented by Collins, like a camera crew following Katniss and crew into "action." Gale made his first real lengthy appearance in Katniss' life, and I followed their interactions on the edge of my seat, especially as Katniss and Gale's relationship related to Katniss' up and down relationship with Peeta.
I promise I won't give away the ending, but I have to say: I approve. I truly believe it was masterfully written, as there is a war going on and in that sense there cannot not be casualties. Collins puts Katniss, Peeta, Gale, their army unit and camera crew into a no-going-back, kill-or-be-killed situation; it's heart-breaking but necessary. There are two distinct enemies and in the end Katniss has to face them both down, decide who's telling the truth and who isn't and in an unrelated but ultimately very important matter, decide who to spend the rest of her life with. I believe Collins achieves everything wonderfully, and I was left extremely satisfied. This is one of the best teen series published over the last decade (at least in my book) and is a must-read for anyone who loves teen and/or science fiction. Enjoy!
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I have read it more times than I can count and have given it as a gift to every friend, family member, or person I don't know very well who needed a gift because it is great for all age groups and different types of people. You don't have to be a science fiction fan to enjoy it, although Ender's Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, both won the Hugo and Nebula awards for outstanding sci fi. I first found Ender's Game in my middle school library and picked it up because it said something about gifted children and I had been in gifted classes so I thought it might be about something like that. I read it in a little under a week and was completely hooked. I immediately wanted everyone I knew to read it because I felt like it was something that needed to be shared. I read it a few years later in high school and found whole new aspects of it I'd never noticed the first time. I started following the rest of the series, which divides and follows two main characters (I followed both). The next books that follow the character, Bean, stay in the same difficulty level. The ones that follow Ender turn into more hard-core science fiction, but were still thrilling. For this reason, the book is sometimes coded as children's, sometimes teen, and sometimes adult science fiction. It can definitely be read and enjoyed at any age! The story itself is essentially about an Earth of the future, united under a world government that formed when the "Buggers" attacked Earth decades earlier. Since that time the International Fleet has started taking incredibly bright young children away to Battle School, a space station designed solely for training future soldiers. Andrew (Ender) Wiggin is an illegal "third" in the population controlled world but the International Fleet has already turned down his older brother, Peter, and older sister, Valentine, for Battle School so his parents are allowed a third child. Ender winds up in Battle School having to participate with his "army" in a series of war-games. Meanwhile his brother and sister manipulate Earth's politics and we learn more about the International Fleet. The conclusion is shocking and hits hard, leaving you hoping there's more. And there is of course!
How would you feel if you had to hide your beauty every time you left home? Fire, a half-monster, half-human living in the unstable Dells, feels the need to do just that every day. Born with fiery red-orange hair which men literally lose their minds over, Fire hides her true nature and refuses to use her powers of mind control against her innocent neighbors. Despised for her gifts, and her corruptor father, yet mindlessly adored, Fire lives an easy life in her friend, Lord Archer’s village until her presence is personally requested in the King’s City by Prince Brigan. King Nash wants her to use her abilities against the enemies that are slowly suffocating the young king and his noble hold on the Kingdom of Dells.
What unfolds is a romantic adventure full of colorful characters, repressed secrets and heart-breaking decisions. Author of the highly praised Graceling, Kristin Cashore proves in this companion novel, Fire, that she can create an amazing fantasy world with stomach-turning romance and teeth-clenching adventure.
Austenland will never be the same. This first release from the new teen publisher, Quirk Classics, brings readers back to the quiet English village of Meryton, but this time England is overrun with zombies and the Bennet family is trained zombie killers. All of the romance and intrigue from Jane Austen's original is intact, featuring the classic characters of Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and more; however, now they not only have to survive the gossip and ridicule of their time, but also the brain-eating hellspawn they have sworn to destroy. Purists may faint on sight, but over 80% of Jane Austen's original material is retained with small "adjustments" and "additions" by author Seth Grahame-Smith included throughout the book. A fun read for horror enthusiasts and Austen fans alike. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies also comes in a hardcover Deluxe Heirloom Edition with 30% more zombie action than the original New York Times bestselling paperback!
Also from the publisher: Sense and Sensibility and Sea-Monsters
This little gem has the potential to be overlooked by most folks, so don't be fooled by the little dog on the cover!
Once the physical shortcomings of age begin to emerge, Alex and Ruth must move after 45 years of living in their current New York City co-op. Forced to find a building with an elevator to cope with their infirmity, they begrudgingly set up an open house so they can begin the mission of uprooting the lives they planted so long ago. The night before their open house, they are met with a distressing surprise: their (also elderly) Daschund, Dorothy seems to be paralyzed. Being a devoted childless couple, they embark on what ends up being a journey, to get little Dot to the animal hospital before the unthinkable happens. They are then met with yet another surprise which has put the city in a public frenzy, citizens and officials alike panicking about the possibilities of another terrorist attack.
At this point, the book becomes very fast-paced, with predicaments and celebrations continually unfolding over the course of less than 72 hours. Despite the bipolar conditions illustrated, the story remains convincing. Ultimately, it paints a humorous and touching, yet realistic portrait of an old (but modern) family struggling with an era of mass hysteria. It reads like a short story, and although somewhat light, it maintains a strong literary quality—reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor.
Although I hate to end in a cliche here, you should know that this book made me laugh out loud, and of course, cry.
Learning to read critically can seem daunting. Works of theory and criticism aren't always the most inviting pieces to read. Not so with Prose's book. She uses samples from widely varying novels and stories - from Heinrich von Kleist to Isaac Babel to Flannery O'Connor to John le Carre - to illustrate how authors use sentence structure, pacing, dialogue, and other devices to develop the story and keep the reader interested. A perfect book for teachers and students looking for inspiration or for casual readers who want to try a different reading technique. You'd better clear your "To Be Read" list when you're done with this book - you'll want to read all the authors Prose references, too!