Monday, December 30, 2013

Stand-Out Books of 2013!

It’s that time of year again!

You (hopefully) have your gift cards and holiday money clasped excitedly in your hand after last week’s festivities and you’re wondering: just what do you want to buy?

Well, books of course!

So, here I am with my fourth annual Stand-Out Books of the Year post – compiling my personal recommendations for your convenience.

Just as in every year – there are way too many good/great/excellent reads to list out – so I have picked just 35 novels that stood out to me as I look over the last year of reading. Even though a book may not be on here, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t like/love it.

These are choices among the books I reviewed, not only read. Some books I read in 2013 aren’t going to have reviews post until 2014 – so I don’t want to confuse everything by including those in this year’s post.

Also, the books listed may or may not have actually been released in 2013 – I just read them in 2013.

My stats are down a little bit this year, but I did start working at a job that sadly I cannot read my day away at (great job, though). So here goes the numbers for 2013:

How many books did I read?

165

That's 25 less than in 2012.

How many pages did I read?

56,309

That's 5,648 less than in 2012.

How many pages, on average, did I read per day?

154

That's 16 pages less per day than in 2012.

Considering how crazy busy I've been this year, I wouldn't say that's too bad!

This year only 35 books made the cut for the Stand-Out Books of the Year. Yet again, there was a lot of painful, tear-ridden whittling to be done – but it’s one of the most exclusive lists yet! Get your Amazon.com clicking finger ready!!!

Remember you can click on each title to read a more in-depth review from yours truly.

Literary/Realistic Fiction:

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
A painful, genuine, beautiful portrayal of a teenage girl who has something terrible happen to her while away on a school ski trip – and keeps it a secret. It’s a moving, lovely story that resonated deeply and focuses on the psychological aspect of moving on.

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
Here is a bittersweet story of first love set in Australia. Each character is written in such a realistic manner as to sometimes be pathetic, sometimes be unlikable, but also be very sympathetic and understandable. I found it to be a compelling, and sometimes quite funny, read.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The sole reason I could not name this category “contemporary” fiction. An uplifting, exquisite, heartfelt tale of first love in the 1980s – and an insight into the life of a girl singled out by being different and the one boy who makes different feel special. Extraordinary, touching, and memorable.


Truth or Dare
by Jacqueline Green
Okay, this one stretches the description of “realistic” fiction – but, go with it okay? Among the campy Pretty Little Liars and series like it, I found Truth or Dare to have a refreshing, creepy spin. The characters didn’t feel dumb, the plot of someone essentially blackmailing these girls into performing terrible dares was suspenseful if a little crazy, and I truly enjoyed reading it. I am not ashamed to admit I’m excited for book two.

Since You Asked by Maureen Goo
Hilarious, fun, coming-of-age novel that tackles familial expectation amongst a strict Korean family and their all-too-American daughter. I had a ton of fun reading this one and secretly (okay, not so secretly) wish for a sequel as we follow the irreverent fifteen-year-old Holly Kim navigate her friendships and her strained mother-daughter relationship.

Dolled Up to Die by Lorena McCourtney
More of a mystery, but takes place in contemporary times!! The uproarious second book in the Cate Kinkaid Files, a murder mystery series that isn’t afraid to feature some great humor and sense of fun.

Historical Fantasy/Paranormal:

Glamour in Glass & Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal
Improving upon the already delightful mix of Jane Austen-like Regency romance and naturalistic, every day magical abilities in Shades of Milk and Honey, these two follow-up novels in Kowal’s series were enough to make me squeal with love! Original plots, fantastic romance and characters, and a truly great fantasy that feels so grounded it could be real.

Starflower & Dragonwitch by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
These two latest additions of the Tales of Goldstone Wood series are just as poetically written and lyrically sweeping as the prior books. In fact, I think they may be even better. Not taking place in any particular time period, they are more of a traditional fairy tale type of world – but with entirely new stories. Touching, suspenseful, and soaringly romantic – I look forward to more from this series!

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Oh my gosh. Do you want a hilarious, witty, clever novel that takes place in an alternate, steampunk Victorian England? How about following a smart young girl as she enters a finishing school that is actually teaching espionage in a giant dirigible? Um, yeah. If you’ve read the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger, this is a must (I haven’t yet, but I’m planning on it), and if not, it’s still a must.

Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters by Suzanne Weyn
A gothic sequel-of-sorts to the original Frankenstein novel, this imagines that the famous doctor had twin daughters who return to his mansion in the Regency time period years after his death. There’s mystery, danger, and a whole lot of creepiness. I was impressed.

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Stunning retelling of Rumpelstiltskin in (what do you know?) the Regency time period. Beautiful characterizations, a realistic tone, lovely period details, romance and a suspenseful story involving one of the more devious Grimm Brothers characters, but with more meat on its bones.

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan
1899 Paris opens the City of Light trilogy, which features sisters who have just recently moved to their new gothic, sprawling home surrounded by stone gargoyles. Gargoyles that may… come to life? A unique paranormal story with a fleshed out backstory, lots of attractive male characters (just being honest here), and a hook that has me ready for more.

Golden Girl by Sarah Zettel
Taking place in 1935, this second novel in the American Fairy trilogy cemented by belief that this is going to be an impressive, original trilogy. Grounding it’s tale in period details that illuminate the Depression-era and a heroine who is likable and different, the fairy elements manage to be quite frightening and nerve-wracking. There’s a level of surreal-ness that I very much appreciate. I am anticipating the final book more than I ever thought I would.

Contemporary Paranormal/Supernatural/Sci-Fi:

The Raven Boys & The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
I don’t know about you, but Maggie Stiefvater is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors. These first two books in the Raven Cycle are hard to explain except to say they are AWESOME. Excellent, layered characters, a dark, magnetic plot, and a story I want to read over and over. I can’t even fully describe my love.

Eternally Yours by Cate Tiernan
The final novel in the Immortal Beloved trilogy, I found it to be a satisfying, mature conclusion to what was an original, mature series. The dark, stark view it had on individuals who have lived far longer than their sanity can fully support? Talk about fascinating! It was a redemptive, inspiring, truly unusual paranormal novel.

In a Fix & Quick Fix by Linda Grimes
The first two books in an addictive, fun, laugh-out-loud urban fantasy series, these are entertaining reads. With a unique ability called being an Adapter, the heroine Ciel can “adapt” to any aura she wants, which she utilizes for her own atypical business. There’s also romance and a bit more, ahem, heat than I normally go for – but I have to overlook that when the remainder of both books are so delightful! Looking forward to more from this series.

Unspoken & Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!!! Kami is one of the best female characters in contemporary literature, in my opinion. In fact, Brennan has penned a horde of colorful, three-dimensional characters in these first two books of the Lynburn Legacy. These novels combine a dark, scary supernatural storyline of magic and danger, a small English village, and characters that can be laugh-out-loud funny. Not to mention a romance that I feel is miles above most others. A MUST READ!!!

Fuse by Julianna Baggott
The Pure trilogy is wholly inventive, new, and striking as a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world of destruction and hope. Switching viewpoints from multiple fascinating characters and revealing superb twists while taking us on a nail-biting thrill ride; I am desperate for the final book in 2014. This is an epic story, for sure.

Every Day by David Levithan
Stunning, creative storyline involving “A” who wakes up each morning in a different body – no matter the gender. There’s a refreshing newness to this story, and a hopeful tone that is irrepressible. It also features a love story that is beyond general attraction. I will say there were a couple moments in the book that I felt were contradictory to the message and surprising in their lack of sensitivity, and an underlying preachiness that at times went a little too far. Yet the original plot and lovely writing alone earn this book a spot on the list.

Touched by Cyn Balog
Nick has had a “script” running in his head since he can remember. Essentially he is being narrated as to what to do every moment of every day. But when one day he veers off script and can’t restrain himself from saving another teen’s life, things begin to fall apart. This is such a unique novel that tells us a touching, twisty, revelatory story that I will not forget.

Amber House by Kelly More, Tucker Reed & Larkin Reed
Much more than a ghost story, this is packed, complex, gorgeously awesome first book in a projected trilogy. It goes to so many unexpected places, I can’t even elucidate. Bizarre, addictive, suspenseful, creepy and completely absorbing – you just need to read it, okay?!?

The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty
Golly, I was pulled in by this doozy! When I read this, I didn’t realize there were three prior books that all tie in together. Ahem, I have ordered them – we’ll leave that at that. Anywho, this book is hilarious, mysterious, inventive, fun, startling, surprisingly perceptive and overall amazing. Genres that don’t normally mix fruitfully mix here to create a novel of near perfection and cleverness.

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
I’m sure anyone who read Daughter of Smoke & Bone has already dived into this gem. But for those of you who have read neither, GET WITH IT! Let’s see, we’ve got a strong, smart female character, mythological beasts and angels that have been at war for millennia – and a star-crossed love story. But it’s so much more than that. I cannot wait for the final book in the trilogy, as it is a magnificently written, exceptional tale.

The Originals by Cat Patrick
Has it been every year almost that I’ve featured a book by Cat Patrick? Quite possibly. Yet again she has penned a reflective, intimate, addictive book involving mystery, danger, and identity issues involved with being one of three clones. It’s suspenseful, exciting, and touching. Excellent.

Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Featuring a Goodnight girl, relative to the heroine in Texas Gothic, Rosemary excels at writing funny, scary, smart contemporary paranormal. A feel of Nancy Drew mystery, involving romance, a supernatural ability and twists around every corner – I look forward to more from this author, as always.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
You like vampire books? Well, this is a whole new vampire book! Taking a different approach and telling a nail-biting story of survival amidst a vampire virus, we get to see a new type of vampire life behind enclosures designed for regular ol’ humans’ safety. What an original, can’t-stop-turning-the-pages novel!

When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears by Kersten Hamilton
A fantastic, heart-wrenching, action-packed conclusion to the Goblin Wars trilogy. Irish mythology, fantastic characters, and a theme of friends and family that is irresistible – I can’t say much without giving stuff away. What I will say is that if you haven’t read this trilogy you are truly missing out. You should read it and then tell everyone you know about it. Capice?

Historical Fiction:

The FitzOsbornes at War by Michelle Cooper
A memorable, heart-wrenching, gorgeous conclusion to the Montmaray Journals – about a fictitious European royal family displaced by the Nazi’s as World War II rages around them. This is an epic family story, romance, and character study. I was entranced from beginning to end. And though it is painful, it is beautiful.

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow by Olivia Newport
As the second book in the Avenue of Dreams series, servant and single mother Charlotte is given the spotlight in this turn of the century Chicago setting. With a heartfelt, but not overly mushy, plot of a mother trying to make a living while being separated from her beloved son – it’s a novel that pulls at those heartstrings and doesn’t let go.

The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Okay, this isn’t historical fiction in the traditional sense. But it does center on a kingdom at the brink of war, intrigue, and action-packed peril amidst a perhaps medieval-type setting. This is the second in the Ascendance Trilogy and is a gripping, intelligent, addictive second book. Very, very good.

Well, there you have it! 35 books to start 2014 off for you in bibliophile happiness!

As this New Year begins, you’ll notice that my blog will be featuring more old books mixed in with new releases. This is me getting back to my roots and exploring novels I missed in the past, or haven’t gotten a chance to get to until now. I hope you’ll enjoy this change as much as I plan to!

Just as I say every year – it gives me great joy to know you are out these reading this blog. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with it, and I know I have scaled back immensely on things like giveaways as my personal schedule lacks the accommodation to do such things – and I appreciate the fact that you’re still reading the Bibliophile Support Group even so.

It makes me believe that you truly just want to learn about books that are out these and want to join me in heralding them.

Have a fantastic New Year’s, and see you in 2014!!!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales

Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales is a YA fantasy/speculative fiction anthology edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt.

In this novel we have a collection of retold fairy tales, science fiction, dystopia, etc. written by a mass of modern day, award winning, best-selling authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Neil Gaiman, Kami Garcia, Holly Black, Carrie Ryan and more!

As always in an anthology there are the stories you find stronger than others, but overall I found Rags & Bones to be a solid, impressive collection.

By taking familiar (sometimes not so familiar) tales and boiling them down to their rags and bones (an apt description from the inside jacket cover) we are presented with something new.

It’s an eccentric, varied group. Below I’ll go over some highlights.

Carrie Ryan’s story, given first, That the Machine May Progress Eternally was creepy and thought-provoking. A dystopian world made more real by man’s own weakness. I have yet to encounter a short story by Carrie Ryan that I did not find satisfying.

Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle but a twist on Sleeping Beauty that I did not see coming, and was just pretty darn awesome!

Time Pratt’s The Cold Corner was very interesting but could have gone farther, I think. Stopped short of being truly compelling, in my opinion.

Becoming more and more of a Holly Black fan – her Millcara was instantly dark and gripping. Excellent narration and spookiness. Very, very cool. Need to start looking more into her work now that I’ve been impressed by this and her novel The Coldest Girl in Coldtown!

When First We Were Gods, by Rick Yancey, was fascinating and impacting – mixing a little bit of disturbing reality with a dystopia that is not pleasant. Immortality isn’t always something to desire.

All the stories had their merits – I love the mix provided. I do wish that there were a few more fairy-tale retellings, as those often catch my interest the most. I admit, I’m a sucker for fairy-tales.

Definitely worth the read – and maybe a re-read! Each story is followed by an Author’s Note, which I liked.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Who Needs Magic?

Who Needs Magic? is a YA contemporary fantasy novel, and the sequel to Don’t Expect Magic, by Kathy McCullough.

I really, really enjoyed Don’t Expect Magic – a new twist on fairy godmothers – so, if you haven’t read it, I suggest you read my review here.

And maybe avoid this review of the sequel…

Delaney Collins knows she is a fairy godmother (f.g.) – in fact, she’s sort of embraced it.

After all, it brought her together with her boyfriend and kinda/sorta helped to repair her relationship with her dad.

So, she’s ready for her next client. Ready to make some magic.

But months have gone by with… nothing.

While working at Treasures, the second hand shop that allows her to do her retooling of vintage boots, Delaney meets Ariella – apparently another f.g.

She’s everything you’d expect for an f.g. Perky, pink, and powerful.

Once Delaney runs across Jeni and finally feels that f.g. pull to make some magic, she finds that having another f.g around might not be helpful.

At all.

Like I said earlier, I loved Don’t Expect Magic. It managed to take fairy godmothers and put a modern twist on it – incorporating Delaney’s grief over the loss of her mother and the strained relationship with her dad.

Who Needs Magic? continues that excellence.

Fully invested in the plot, I felt as *ugh* about Ariella as Delaney – not liking her energetic annoyingness.

The author makes it very easy to get behind Delaney as a sarcastic but caring heroine. It’s another fun, buoyant read – if occasionally frustrating as we see some believable mistakes get made.

Who Needs Magic? is funny, smart, and REALLY entertaining!

Not to mention touching.

Yet again, I loved it.

I would like more books.

Please, Ms. McCullough?!?!?

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Man Who Was Poe

The Man Who Was Poe is a middle grade/YA historical mystery novel by AVI.

It’s been two days since Sis and Edmund’s aunt left them to hide in a solitary room. The food’s run out and though Edmund desperately wants to follow his aunt’s final directions of not leaving the room until she returns, he sneaks into the shadowy streets of 19th century Providence, Rhode Island to buy some bread.

He’s only gone minutes. But when he returns, though the door is still locked – Sis is gone.

When a strange man offers to help Edmund find his sister, Edmund’s desperate fear causes him to agree.

Yet the man is volatile, gloomy and seems to have his own agenda.

Will this man help Edmund find Sis? Does Edmund have a choice but to let him try?

The Man Who Was Poe has a lightly spooky, lightly atmospheric tone. This tone increases as Mr. Dupin, the man who offers to help Edmund – and who may also be actually Edgar Allan Poe – becomes more illuminated.

Mr. Dupin is creepy, disturbingly unstable and truly unpredictable. I definitely did not find him likable, and don’t suspect I was supposed to. His character made for a rather sad overall feel from The Man Who Was Poe because poor Edmund has to deal with this horrid man while searching for his sister!

Essentially all alone in his worry, Edmund’s concern over those he loves is never met with any empathy by Mr. Dupin – so throughout the book I just felt wretched for the young boy. Made the book a bit depressing, though the plot was interesting.

The Man Who Was Poe tells a mystery – in the end it is outshone by the unsettling, ambiguous mood that Mr. Dupin (Poe) creates in his rather delusional obsession with death.

It was a different sort of read.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Golden Girl

Golden Girl is a YA 30s era fantasy novel, the second in The American Fairy Trilogy, by Sarah Zettel.

I am a broken record. Doesn’t change the importance of the message though: Do not read this review on Golden Girl until you have already read the first book Dust Girl!

Haven’t read Dust Girl? Check out my review here. It’s a terrific book!

If you have read Dust Girl, then go ahead and proceed to a brief synopsis and then review of Golden Girl

It was not long ago that Callie LeRoux was in Kansas, deep in the midst of the Dust Bowl.

Now Callie is in search of her mother and a father she’s never known – whom she now knows is a fairy prince.

Making her half-fairy. And heir to his throne.

Her search has brought her and her friend Jack to California, knowing that amidst the great weather and glamorous starlets the fairies are sure to be thriving.

It doesn’t take long to realize that Callie is now in enemy territory.

It’d be great if that prophecy about her started yielding some results about now…

Golden Girl is a truly unique fantasy.

It has a genuine, awesome feel of the 1930s – and the Hollywood golden age has such a nostalgic impression.

Just as in Dust Girl, the fairy/magical aspect of the plot manages to be down to Earth. When faced with new creatures, there is a surreal, incredible sense of real danger, suspense and creepiness.

Personally, I am finding The American Fairy Trilogy to be increasingly impressive with this second book. The characters are great – scrappy and likable – and the storyline is engrossing, putting a new, historical spin on a fairy plot.

Plus, the villains are villainous! Seriously, these books truly go into the creepy realm – definitely good stuff here!

By the end, my notes generally boil down to, “Excellent! Excellent!”

Final verdict? I want the final book!!!

Definitely a book, and trilogy, to read and spread the word about!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Unbreakable

Unbreakable is the start to a new YA supernatural contemporary series called The Legion by Kami Garcia, co-author to the popular book Beautiful Creatures.

Kennedy’s life has changed drastically.

When one night her beloved cat Elvis slipped out of the house (out of the ordinary as it is) and she chased him to a cemetery (not the best place to be at night, kinda creepy), her eyes became glued on an apparition.

A girl.

Floating.

Maybe transparent.

After grabbing her cat and heading home, Kennedy convinced herself that what she saw wasn’t really what she saw and headed out to the movie theater with her best friend in new boots her awesome Mom just bought her.

It was when she came home that the world shattered around her.

Her Mom was dead.

They said heart failure.

But then, four weeks later, as Kennedy is spending her last, tearful night in her bedroom before starting what she thinks will be her new life at a boarding school, identical twins Jared and Lukas Lockhart break in and destroy a deadly spirit sent to kill her.

Suddenly it’s all too clear that her Mom did not die of heart failure.

As Kennedy listens, shell-shocked, she learns that there is a secret society called the Legion of the Black Dove that has been around for generations fighting ghosts and a particularly vengeful demon – and all five members were murdered on the same night.

Her Mom being one of them.

Swept away with the haphazard replacement group, of which she is told she is one of, Kennedy realizes that she is missing any special skill as to which to help.

And she might not stay alive long enough to find out the truth about her Mom’s life in the Legion…

Unbreakable is a fast-paced book fraught with some early sad emotions and decently creepy scenes.

As the novel continued, I have to say I was not sure how invested I was in Kennedy. I was enjoying the story, though it seemed to have shades of a lot of familiar concepts without being awfully original about it. Yet one of my biggest issues was that I wanted Kennedy to start being tougher – or at least less in need of rescuing so often.

It’s an action novel, a clue-following story as they work to destroy a demon that is responsible for the recent Legion’s mass murder. Not to mention it features lots of demon/spirit fighting. Kinda fun, but I feel it could’ve been even better.

Unbreakable is definitely a quick read – and entertaining. The relationships (and attractions) between characters happen a little quicker than I prefer, but I can’t say I was bored in the slightest.

In my opinion Unbreakable is a good fit for fans of Maureen Johnson’s Shades of London series, though it’s not as atmospheric or – just speaking from personal taste – filled with as many believable, likable characters.

After finishing it, I am interested in book two – but not clamoring.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Darkbeast Rebellion

Darkbeast Rebellion is a middle grade fantasy novel, and the sequel to Darkbeast, by Morgan Keyes.

Yet again this is a review that you want to avoid unless you’ve read Darkbeast first (review here).

Deal?

Keara and Caw are fleeing for their lives with their previous Traveler companions Goran and Taggart. Only recently has Keara found that they too spared their darkbeasts instead of sacrificing them on their twelfth birthday as is the law.

Caw is more than a creature that takes on her darker deeds and thoughts and gives her an emotional boost. He’s her friend. She could not, and will not, kill him.

Now that they are being hunted by the ruthless Inquisitors, Taggart is convinced that he can take them all to a safe haven for darkers – a group of people who have spared their darkbeasts and live in secrecy.

But they are freezing and exhausted and the journey just might kill them…

Just as in the first novel Darkbeast, Darkbeast Rebellion portrays a sweet bonding between man and animal as its focus. A friendship that runs deep. As an animal lover, that is a win!

At times, I will admit, I felt that the book was a little meandering – but the prose fleshes Keara out so well. She’s a three-dimensional, flawed, likable, brave girl that tends to be an outsider no matter whom she’s around.

Darkbeast Rebellion is an increasingly suspenseful read – at times utterly nerve-wrangling as its twists surprise and worry you. This is truly well done world building, if not always completed riveting in so doing.

Bursting with emotion and raw feeling, I feel this book is a survival story – not just for the human characters we follow, but those they love – their darkbeasts.

It’s a touching story with an ending that I can be satisfied with as a conclusion or (preferably) an opening to another book.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Untold

Untold is the second book in the gothic YA supernatural Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan.

The first book, Unspoken, was amazing – as you can read in my review here.

The second book, Untold, is also amazing – which you can read below.

HOWEVER, if you haven’t read Unspoken yet don’t you dare!!! You don’t want to know ANYTHING about book two before you read book one, ya hear?

Okay then. If you’re still reading this that better mean you’ve read Unspoken…

Sorry-in-the-Vale is a small, quiet town in England.

Or so it seems.

Actually it is the center of a terrifying sorceress family called the Lynburn’s, where they ruled for generations through blood and power. It’s been some time since it’s been that way.

But Rob Lynburn is determined to bring the old ways back.

That’s why Rob brought his family back to Sorry-in-the-Vale, including his troubled nephew Jared – though they didn’t know that was the reason initially.

The battle for Sorry-in-the-Vale is gearing up to be a tough one as there are more sorcerers in town than originally believed. And Rob’s tactics of swaying by fear seem to be working.

For Kami, however, things are personal. Kami and Jared have been linked since birth – always in each other’s minds, never alone – and before they met they each they thought the other may just be imaginary. Perhaps proof that they were crazy.

But each is real. And the bond that developed between the years is unique – not able to be understood by others.

Now that bond is broken.

Kami is free. But it doesn’t feel that way…

Wow, Untold is immediately hilarious and spooky – wait till you see what inanimate objects come to life in the first chapter!

We get a smart recap with Angela’s brother Rusty, which really helped me out. I didn’t have time to reread Unspoken and it gave me a good little refresher.

Untold is surprisingly funny while also being heartbreaking. It made me laugh out loud, caused my heart to break and made me want to cry.

Talk about causing a range of emotions effectively, Ms. Brennan!

Plus, Kami is one of my favorite modern-day literary heroines. Period.

She’s smart, witty, strong-willed yet vulnerable in a believable way. Truly a girl that would be an awesome friend.

The Lynburn Legacy features on of the deepest, most soulful romances I’ve read, also. Especially for YA. It’s honestly beyond the superficial and never feels forced or cheesy. This is about a connection like no other, and knowing someone through and through.

Amidst all the awesomeness is a line-up of equally excellent supporting characters like Angela, Rusty, Holly and (of course) Jared.

Untold manages to be horrifying, suspenseful, and nail biting.

And oh my gosh I need the next book NOW.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Midnight for Charlie Bone

Midnight for Charlie Bone is a middle grade fantasy novel and the first in the Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo.

Having lived with his odd, less-than-pleasant paternal grandmother (along with his mother, fraternal grandmother, and secretive uncle), Charlie has always known that she has thought little of him. That he wasn’t “special”.

What Charlie didn’t realize is just how “special” she expected him to be.

When he discovers a sudden ability to hear the conversations of people in photographs when he looks at them, his grandmother makes it clear this is what she’s been waiting for.

Suddenly he’s being pushed to go to an elite private school for the magically endowed – a place Charlie would rather not go.

But once he’s roped into a mystery involving a dangerously sought after item and a missing girl, Charlie realizes he may find more answers at the school…

A British children’s fantasy? I was VERY ready to give it a shot.

It had a little bit of an eccentric, pleasant tone – but sadly that was all, and even that grew thin, for me.

Midnight for Charlie Bone
lacked any real humor or a strong enough plot to truly snare me. I wasn’t fully uninterested, but by the end I didn’t really feel it went anywhere.

Charlie’s magical talents are never really utilized, I never had a sense of him as a character, and the plot felt very unclear and nonsensical (and not in a fun way).

At times I honestly felt like Nimmo was trying to write another Harry Potter, and I’m sorry to say didn’t even come close.

Midnight for Charlie Bone had some admirable qualities, it wasn’t wholly boring or offensive to me in any way, but I just felt consistently ho-hum.

As I already have the second book Charlie Bone and the Time Twister, I will give it a shot and see if it improves. However, if it is more of the same – I don’t see me continuing this series.