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Showing posts from November, 2014

The Iron Trial

The Iron Trial is the first middle grade fantasy novel in Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s new Magisterium series.

All of Callum Hunt’s life, his father has been adamant about steering clear of magic – that it’s dangerous, that it’s something to be avoided entirely.

So, though most kids are excited to be going to the Iron Trial – a test for children exhibiting possible magical abilities to be entered into apprenticeship education at the Magisterium – Callum is entering into it with the intention of failing.

Failing on purpose.

Yet the tests end up being more obscure than Callum expected – and though he does poorly, somehow he still manages to be selected to be a student.

Tearing Callum aware from his shouting father, Callum’s mind thunders with all of the warnings and fears his father pounded into his head over the years.

Now he has no choice but to face those forewarnings and try to get thrown out and go home before it’s too late…

I could have given even more information in that sy…

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book in The Raven Cycle, a quartet of YA contemporary fantasy, by Maggie Stiefvater.

Being that they are stunning books that are highly serialized, I urge you to read the books in order. You can read my review of The Raven Boyshere and The Dream Thieveshere.

Being in a family of gifted females – gifted meaning clairvoyants, psychics and other type of weirdness – as well as having her own ability of increasing others’ power by her presence, Blue has always been an outsider.

But then she met her Raven Boys.

Now fully accepted into their exclusive group and part of the quest to find the long lost king Glendower amongst the ley lines, her experience in weirdness is coming in handy.

Things are not rainbows and sunshine, however.

Her mother has disappeared – and Blue doesn’t know whether to be angry or worried.

Dangerous people have tracked down Blue and her Raven Boys – people that are getting too close to following their footsteps to Glendower.

Their ques…

Fox Forever

Fox Forever is a YA sci-fi novel – and the third in the Jenna Fox Chronicles – by Mary E. Pearson.

Happily, I was able to take the time to re-read The Adoration of Jenna Fox and The Fox Inheritance before reading Fox Forever. Yet again I was moved and amazed by the originality and characterizations that made both books so stunning.

I recommend reading these books in order to get the whole effect – so refrain from reading this review if you haven’t yet read The Adoration of Jenna Fox and The Fox Inheritance.

Locke Jenkins has left the relative comfort of Jenna’s home to live the life he’s been robbed of for the last 260 years – time that Jenna has lived, despite still looking a young seventeen-years-old.

But he has a Favor to repay – from the time that he and Kara were escaping from the monstrous Dr. Gatsbro and the Network – those who are on the fringes of society as non-civilians in this futuristic, split United States - helped them.

They seem to think Locke would be a great parti…

House of Many Ways

House of Many Ways is a middle grade/YA fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones and the sequel, of sorts, to Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Air.

Due to this, I recommend reading the books in order to get the full, fun effect.

When Charmain’s great-uncle, the royal wizard of their land, becomes mysteriously ill and is carried off by elves to be tended to, Charmain is volunteered by her wealthy aunt to look after his house in his absence.

To Charmain this is an opportunity to read nonstop without pesky, bothersome parents about to disturb her – but she soon discovers that time to read at this unique house may be tougher to come by than she expected.

A humble, ordinary dwelling on the outside, Charmain’s great-uncle’s residence is a wonder from the inside – with the ability to bend space and time. There’s also a clingy, stray dog in residence that may or may not be magical and an inconvenient arrival of a clumsy wizard’s apprentice.

To top all of this off, Charmain becomes involved i…

The Book Thief

The Book Thief is a historical fiction novel by Markus Zusak.

In 1939, Liesel has lost her little brother and has been left by her mother to live with foster parents in Germany. She clutches The Grave Digger’s Handbook, a book left by her brother’s grave by accident, even though she does not know how to read.

This first act of book thievery is only the beginning – and as she learns to read with the assistance of her foster father she commences a passion for books and words.

But as the Nazi’s hold in Germany strengthens, Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement and sets off a string of events that will change Liesel’s life forever…

I have heard of The Book Thief, of course, for quite some time. As I finally reached the point to read it for myself, I was a bit scared of it not meeting expectations – or that it would and I’ll cry for ages!

The prologue is powerful, golly that’s for sure.

The Book Thief is deeply touching, frightening and engrossing.

This is a meaningful and …

Surprised by Love

Surprised by Love is a Christian historical romance by Julie Lessman, the third book in The Heart of San Francisco trilogy.

Though each book in the series focuses on a different family member, I’d still advise reading the books in order to avoid spoilers – as the characters overlap. First you’ll want to read Love at Any Cost and then Dare to Love Again. Click on the titles to read my reviews of those novels.

A year ago plump, smart Megan McClare left San Francisco to study in Paris.

During that year she has turned into a beauty – having slimmed down, learned some makeup tips and fashion how-to. Even her own family has a tough time recognizing her at first!

With ambitions and a heart that is as strong in faith as ever, Megan embraces the opportunity to intern at the district attorney’s office.

But then she finds out that Devin Caldwell will also be interning there – the boy that she had a crush on when she was younger.

The boy who mocked, teased and hurt her with callous words.

Faced …

Castle in the Air

Castle in the Air is a middle grade/YA fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s also a companion to Howls Moving Castle.

To keep from being spoiled at all on Howl’s Moving Castle – I recommend you read it first. You can read my review here.

Young carpet merchant Abdullah makes smart buying decisions and spends his free time with his friend Jamal and Jamal’s people-hating-except-for-Jamal-and-Abdullah dog.

He also spends a lot of his time dreaming.

When one day a mysterious man sells him a persnickety magic carpet, things begin to get complicated.

That very same night, Abdullah awakens to find himself in his imagined palace garden and meets girl just like the one he’d daydreamed about – she is a princess and her name is Flower-in-the-Night.

Just as Abdullah begins to think all of his dreams are coming true – Flower-in-the-Night is kidnapped by a wicked djinn.

A quest has begun – as he must save her!

Along the way his stubborn magic carpet leads him to a shady genie and deceitful …

Of Beast and Beauty

Of Beast and Beauty is a YA fantasy reimagining of Beauty and the Beast by Stacey Jay.

Inside the domed city of Yuan live the Smooth Skins – of which blind Isra is the princess.

Despite being blind, she knows she is a hideous blemish on her people and has been held in a tower, unseen by the Smooth Skins, since her mother’s death.

But does it matter? She’s been raised to be a human sacrifice anyway – a girl whose death will mean the prosperity of the Smooth Skins for years to come.

Outside Yuan is the vast, barren desert where those they call the Monstrous live. As they fight starvation, Gem is one of many that cross the border into Yuan to search for food for their loved ones.

When caught, Gem becomes a prisoner of Isra and the question of who is the monstrous becomes more pressing than ever before.

Isra’s way of life is called into question by her association with Gem – who she begins to consider intelligent, compassionate and wholly human – not monstrous at all despite his claws and…

The Mirk and Midnight Hour

The Mirk and Midnight Hour is a YA historical retelling of The Ballad of Tam Lin by Jane Nickerson.

Though this novel takes place in the same universe as Nickerson’s previous novel Strands of Bronze and Gold, my review of which you can read here, it is not necessary to read in order.

Violet Dancey, seventeen, does her best to assist in the efforts of the fight against the North as she lives out her daily life in Mississippi. She tries to help wounded soldiers – though she hardly knows what she’s doing.

When her father announces that he is going to marry and Violet will have not just a new stepmother but also a stepsister – a girl her own age that she knows and does not particularly care for – she is not pleased. To have her comfortable little home invaded by strangers – while she’s still grieving her beloved soldier twin brother and relies on the support of her best friend, a slave her own age that is more like family – sounds devastating.

Then her home of Scuppernong Farm also is v…