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Showing posts from February, 2013

Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron

Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron is a YA anthology of some of the biggest names in fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal novels, edited by Jonathan Strahan.

The pointy hat, the cauldron, the black cat: all recognizable symbols of a witch.

We’ve read, seen, or heard about them since we were tiny tots – from Disney movies, to books, and beyond.

Here we get EIGHTEEN new, fresh short stories from various best-selling, acclaimed authors such as Garth Nix, Holly Black, Jim Butcher, Diana Peterfreund, Peter S. Beagle, Tim Pratt, Isobelle Carmody and others.

Sounded exciting to me!

Under My Hat starts off with Diana Peterfreund – who hasn’t written a thing I haven’t liked yet. Her story, Stray Magic, was sweet. I felt the direness of the situation, and it was well-written… but it felt too short. Which is why I really can’t give details of these stories – it’ll pretty much give it all away!

Essentially, I felt like it was the start to an interesting story – not a complete one. This theme was ong…

Darkbeast

Darkbeast is a middle grade fantasy novel by Morgan Keyes.

In Keara’s world, every child has a darkbeast that they take their faults, their misdeeds, and their dark emotions to. The darkbeast absorbs them, a constant companion to the child they are magically bound to.

Until their twelfth birthday when the child kills their darkbeast. It is not only tradition, but law.

Keara, however, is not like most children. Instead of feeling bitterness or irritancy with her darkbeast for being the reminder of her flaws and lack of freedom, Keara loves her darkbeast. He is a raven, named Caw. To her, he is a friend.

The thought of killing Caw is unthinkable, yet unavoidable, in Keara’s mind.

As the day draws near, Keara’s decision will cause ripple effects that will change her life and those around her…

Definitely don’t want to give too many details here. Darkbeast was too good!

Morgan Keyes has created a lovely, beautiful, unique fantasy that provides a sprawling view from small village life to t…

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave

On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave is a middle grade/YA collection of short stories featuring the supernatural, ghostly, and occasionally humorous by Candace Fleming.

When Mike Kowalski is hurrying home, driving a bit faster than he should, he has good reason.

He really doesn’t want to be chewed out by his Mom – again.

But when a girl about his age suddenly appears in his headlights, Mike has to offer her a ride home. She’s wet and shivering – and seems confused. Or at least, she’s confusing him.

What he doesn’t know yet is that she will lead him to a Chicago cemetery with only the young dead as its residents.

Tonight he will hear their stories – ranging from the turn of the century era to modern times.

Whether he likes it or not, he’ll probably be late for curfew…

This is a really amusing, sharp story assortment – a send up to classic horror stories. Initially it sounds pretty grim – a bunch of teenagers are dead? Fun, right? But actually – yes!

Some of the tales, such as Gina…

When the Heart Heals

When the Heart Heals is an inspirational historical fiction novel, the second in the Sisters at Heart series, by Ann Shorey.

Rosemary Saxon is still trying to get the people of Noble Springs to better accept the fact that she was a nurse during the Civil War. Traditional ideas give them an impression of an improper woman tending to indecent men – while others just think the thought of a woman being a nurse is ridiculous.

Yet Rosemary is a stubborn female, and she also needs to support herself since she is determined to stay independent and not move in with her brother and his wife Faith. A new, younger doctor named Elijah has come to Noble Springs and he allows her to take a position with him – though he’s hesitant.

In most ways she enjoys the employment, but every time she and Dr. Elijah Stewart converse it seems to be purely butting heads. Both are headstrong, opinionated, and have a tendency to say the wrong things.

When Rosemary begins to receive threats, will her obstinacy put he…

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys is a YA paranormal novel, and the first in The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater.

I was impressed by the Shiver trilogy but absolutely dumbfounded by The Scorpio Races, so I had been shiverin’ me timbers for The Raven Boys.

And was NOT disappointed!!!

Blue Sargent has an eccentric family filled with psychic abilities. So far, she has manifested none – except that when she is near her family members, their abilities seem stronger or clearer.

That’s why every year Blue stands next to her mother on St. Mark’s Eve to write the names of the soon-to-be-dead that appear in an old churchyard. This year is different. Instead of her mom, Blue is standing next to her little known half-aunt.

And she actually sees one of the soon-to-be-dead. And he speaks to her.

His name is Gansey. He’s ridiculously wealthy and goes to Aglionby, a private, ritzy boy’s school that she avoids like the plague. Because of a prophecy Blue has lived with since she was little, she avoids boys in general…

Kissing Shakespeare

Kissing Shakespeare is a YA time-travel contemporary romance novel by Pamela Mingle.

Miranda has lived her life in the shadow of two of the most sought-after Shakespearean actors in modern history – her parents. As an actress herself, Miranda finds herself struggling with her part in The Taming of the Shrew.

After a particularly bad performance, Miranda is approached by one of the more reclusive actors at her school – Stephen Langford, rather new to the drama department, and certainly an enigma.

He essentially tells her that for Shakespeare’s work to remain part of history she needs to travel back in time with him to meet Shakespeare and make sure he doesn’t make a different choice in life.

Of course Miranda thinks he’s crazy, but that doesn’t keep him from hauling her to Elizabethan times and trying his best to convince her to utilize what he thinks is her considerable acting talents to blend in to sixteenth-century England and charm the most famous bard of all time – when he’s still…

Eternally Yours

Eternally Yours is the conclusion to the YA paranormal Immortal Beloved trilogy by Cate Tiernan.

Yes, this is a book you do not want to read if you haven’t read Immortal Beloved and Darkness Falls first. Same goes for this review! Please don’t spoil your enjoyment – instead read my reviews of the previous two books by clicking on their titles.

However, if you HAVE read Immortal Beloved and Darkness Falls – and really you should have, they’re outstanding! – then go ahead and read my review below!

450-year-old Nastasya Crowe has returned to River’s Edge after slipping back into her self-destructive ways for a little while. That was quickly remedied when everything went so wrong – and she was reminded why she was searching for help in the first place.

So she’s spent her time re-orienting to the farm life, washing dishes, and healing her broken soul – all the more necessary now that she knows more about her epic magickal family history and the dangers attached to that. She’s come to, *gu…

Love and Other Perishable Items

Love and Other Perishable Items is a YA contemporary fiction novel by Australian author Laura Buzo.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – and to celebrate I bring to you a story about first love. Not the mushy romance novel kind (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or the paranormal kind (not that there’s anything wrong with that either) but the regular, difficult, real-life kind.

It didn’t take long for Amelia to fall for Chris, her trainer at the supermarket in which she works. His easy way of talking, his friendliness, humor, and charisma has done her in.

This is a problem because Chris is twenty-one, a university student hungry to become an independent man. And Amelia? Fifteen.

Having always had a good head on her shoulders, Amelia knows it won’t go anywhere. Sure, it’s like a knife to the heart every time she sees him flirting with a girl his age – but she’ll take the moments of conversation, sharing opinions and personal moments with him at the checkout as they work.

But it’s …

Don't You Wish

Don’t You Wish is a YA contemporary novel with an alternate universe twist by Roxanne St. Claire.

Annie Nutter, unremarkable looking and one of the “invisibles” at school, has just finished another stellar day.

Yeah, not really.

Being made to feel humiliated on the school bus, followed by finding out her mom almost married a guy that’s now a billionaire before she settled on her dad isn’t the recipe for a fantastic evening.

But when Annie gets zapped by one of her dad’s wacky inventions, she wakes up in what she initially thinks must be a dream.

Her name is Ayla Monroe. She lives in a mansion, her family has loads of money, and when she looks in the mirror she looks like a WAY improved version of herself.

It doesn’t take long to realize, though, that this is no dream. She’s in an alternate universe where her mom did marry that billionaire – and she’s the queen bee of the school, girlfriend of one of the hottest guys she’s ever seen, and… her family is miserable.

Annie may be Ayla on …

Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines is the first book in the YA sci-fi/dystopia Predator Cities quartet by Philip Reeve.

This is an older series that’s been re-released. As you know I’ve read the Fever Crumb series up to its personally rather disappointing third book Scrivener’s Moon – but what I’ve always heard the most about is this original set of books – and I’m finally reading them.

London is one of the greatest Traction Cities – it’s been hunting down and eating many smaller cities and towns for generations. But prey is starting to get slim. So, when London is chasing down a frightened small town, the Londoners are desperate to overpower it – because if it does not, London could be in danger of becoming a victim itself.

Successful and triumphant, London begins hacking it up – gathering what is useful, destroying what is not, and checking the survivors for entrance into London. Among the inhabitants is a terribly scarred girl named Hester Shaw. Tom Natsworthy, Apprentice Historian to the London Museu…

3 Below

3 Below is the second book in the middle grade whimsical series Floors by Patrick Carmen.

Series are always best read in order, so if you haven’t read Floors yet you can check my review here, or go read it!!! If you already have, take a look at my thoughts on 3 Below:

Now that Leo is the owner of the madcap Whippet Hotel he feels an even stronger urge to uncover all its secrets and protect its strange wonder.

So when Merghanzer D. Whippet confides in Leo that the hotel is extremely behind on its taxes, Leo and his new brother Remi know they must save it by following Merghanzer’s nonsensical – but exciting! – instructions.

With their parents conveniently given a surprise honeymoon courtesy of Mr. Whippet, Leo and Remi find themselves exploring whole new floors and aspects of the Whippet Hotel!

That’s all I’m going to say as a synopsis of 3 Below, because the best thing about this book is going along for the ride!

After the rather dark, lyrical The Blood Keeper, I was definitely read…

The Blood Keeper

The Blood Keeper is a YA paranormal by Tessa Gratton.

This is a companion to Blood Magic, which I adored as you can read in my review here. However, it’s heavily stand-alone, so I only recommend reading Blood Magic first for your maximum enjoyment – but this review won’t give away any spoilers of it.

On a secluded Kansas farm, Mab Prowd practices blood magic – and it’s as normal as daylight to her. Her interest is regular school subjects like math and history is slim to none, she’d rather be experimenting with what she can do with her significant abilities.

Will was just trying to overcome a nightmare by facing it right on at the lake, with his two dogs by his side, when he met her. Mab, having awoken a terrifying mud man, accidentally lost her hold on him and the thing collided right into Will.

It’s a lot to digest – the magic, the belief in it – but Will suddenly finds that his strained home life, athletics, and friends don’t reverberate with the same wild energy of that one meeting…

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched is the third book in Meg Cabot’s adult contemporary rom-com trilogy Queen of Babble.

Yes, these books may have been published years ago – but if you, like me, are late to the game and have not yet read them, don’t read this review! It’ll unescapably contain spoilers from the first two books – and ruin all the fun!

Instead, check out my reviews of Queen of Babble and Queen of Babble in the Big City.

But if you kept up with the series and are either up to the final book or have already read it and simply curious what I thought, read on!!

Lizzie Nichols finds herself in another conundrum. Leaving Luke, moving into a place of her own, and obtaining the job of her dreams (or close enough for now) was invigorating.

But now Luke showed up, got on one knee and asked her to marry him.

This being the focal point of the breakup, Lizzie accepts and slides that sparkling ring on her finger.

Only problem? Her best friend’s ex-boyfriend, whom Lizzie just recently share…

Starflower

Starflower is the fourth novel in the fairy-tale series Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

Lady Gleamdren – the sister of the queen of Faerie – has been kidnapped by a cursed dragon-witch.

The beginning of an epic quest? Of course!

Eanrin, the Bard of his land, is determined to rescue his lady fair – and make sure he beats his rival at it!

What he really didn’t need to happen was to run across an insignificant mortal girl and her problems, but when he finds her trapped in an enchanted sleep he just can’t leave her behind in the perilous Wood Between unguarded.

After getting her awakened, Eanrin finds himself entangled in helping her and striving to rescue Lady Gleamdren all at the same time. A true mess.

Everything happens for a reason, however. And the girl, whose name is Starflower, may have a mysterious link to the dragon-witch…

I’ve been previously very impressed by Stengl’s Heartless and Veiled Rose. I’m working on getting Moonblood. Starflower may be my favori…