Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Review of Winter-Marissa Meyer

This is the final book in the Lunar Chronicles series, and it's a wonderful conclusion to a unique series.  Merging fairy tales with science fiction, it began with Cinder (a cyborg Cinderella), Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), Cress (Rapunzel), Fairest (a novella about the evil queen) and ends with Winter (Snow White).  To avoid spoilers, I will simply give it 4 Elves - Highly Recommended for Teens & Adults

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Review of Carry On - Rainbow Rowell

The author's characters first appeared in her book, Fangirl and as she states in her author's note, she had to finish their story.  Simon Snow, her main character, began life as a fan fiction version of Harry Potter but then took on a life of his own. Being The Chosen One was always a burden (as Harry knew well) but for Simon, he didn't think he'd live through it. This novel is a fresh look at the burden of having too much magic and the power of friendships. It's a wonderful book and a fast read.  4 Elves - Highly Recommended for mature teens and adults

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Review of Six of Crows-Leigh Bardugo

I loved the Grisha Chronicles by this author, and her new book doesn't disappoint.  She goes back to the world of the Grisha and centers the story around a small gang.  This gang, led by the mysterious Kaz, needs to break out a scientist imprisoned in a very secure jail.  The story revolves around the plan and this gang of six, but it's the character development that keeps the reader engrossed.  Eventually, you hear each character's story and the more you learn, the more you care.  Spoiler alert: the ending drove me crazy because I have to wait until the next book to find out what happened.  4 Elves - Highly recommended for teens and adults

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review of The Accident Season-Moira Fowley-Doyle

A perfect book for October and Hallowe'en, this book is full of ghosts, magic and teen angst.  Cara & her family experience many accidents during the month of October and have for a long time.  Some of these accidents are minor and some have resulted in death so during October, the family is tense and wary.  But this year feels different and as Cara & Sam search for a young teen whose picture keeps showing up in Cara's cell phone snaps, they begin to realize that the missing girl could hold the key to the accident season.  I loved the characters and the mood the author has created; I'll be looking for more books by this Irish writer.  4 Elves - Highly recommended for adults and mature teens

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Review of A Court of Thorns & Roses-Sarah J. Maas

I really loved this book but because of some graphic violence, it is not appropriate for younger teens.  An interesting remix of Beauty & the Beast and the ancient tale of Tamlin, Feyre, a mortal, is taken to the world of the faeries in retribution for killing a faerie disguised as an enormous wolf.  After hearing terrible stories of faeries tormenting humans, she expected the worst in the faerie realms but was treated with respect by Tamlin, a mysterious High Lord of the faeries. As she gets to know Tamlin, she finds she is attracted to him and his court of spring.  But evil threatens and unless she can save Tamlin and his world, all will be lost - including the mortal lands.  4 Elves - Highly recommended for adults and mature teens  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Review of Heart of Betrayal-Mary E. Pearson

This second book in her series is just as good as the first.  The title is deceiving and makes it seem like a romance, but it's a fascinating fantasy world with lots of action, adventure, a kick-ass heroine, magic and just a bit of romance.  The ending left me wanting more... now!  3 Elves - Recommended for adults and teens.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review of Invasion of the Tearling-Erika Johnson

I loved the first book in this series, Queen of the Tearling, but was disappointed in the sequel.  Many of the elements that made the first book great were still there, but the author upped the violence (including rape) for this second book.  She also has the heroine, Kelsea, go back in time to visit the world before the Crossing and inhabit the mind and body of a young woman; we later discover that the woman plays an important role in the creation of the new world.  While I was interested in glimpses of the old world, the brutal rape & beatings were intense and definitely not appropriate for the author's YA audience.  The ending leaves no doubt that one or more books are coming.  3 Elves- Recommended for adults and very mature, older teens.

Monday, September 7, 2015

New review of Magonia-Maria Dahvana Headley

What a strange, strange book!  I was initially drawn into the story by the two wonderful characters, Aza & Jason.  Aza is slowly dying because her lungs don't work the way they should, while Jason researches a cure for her ailment and supports her by being her friend.  Then, the story takes a weird shift and ventures into sci fi territory.  Aza leaves earth for a ship that floats in the sky into a realm known as Magonia.  In Magonia, she can breathe and has strong powers.  But some in Magonia want to use her powers to destroy the earth so they can save the resources before they are destroyed by pollution.  The ending is not terribly satisfying but leaves the story open for a sequel.  3 Elves - Recommended for teens and adults who love science fiction

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Review of Rook-Sharon Cameron

With much of the story and action derived from The Scarlet Pimpernel, this novel takes the plot in an interesting direction.  In this Paris of the future, technology has led to a terrible plague that has killed off many citizens .  As a result, all technology has been banned and the continent has gone back to the dark ages.  But some citizens feel that not all technology is evil and could be used for much good, like healing the sick and injured.  A revolution is in progress and citizens are rising up against a corrupt and superstitious government.  Can The Rook free all of the prisoners from the Bastille-like jail?  The action and suspense keep us guessing about the allies and foes of the revolution; the ongoing romance between Sophia and Rene make us care about the characters.  3 Elves - recommended for young readers, teens & adults who care about history.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Review of Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl-Barry Lyga

Fifteen is a tough year for a teen and if you're a geek with only one friend, it's pretty terrible.  When Fanboy is noticed by a goth girl, Kyra, his self-esteem starts to rise.  Once Kyra finds out about the graphic novel he's working on (a work he hasn't even told his best friend about) and praises it, he starts to realize that he isn't destined to be the isolated geek at school forever. 3 Elves - Recommended for teens & adults who like to see kids rise above bullying

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review of Orphan Queen-Jodi Meadows

This book had some great ideas: a queen in hiding after seeing her parents murdered, a secretive best friend and a mysterious vigilante roaming the streets.  But some of these ideas worked well and others didn't; some characters needed more depth and the threatening evil, the Wraiths, were also ill-defined. The queen is feisty and not afraid to get her hands dirty fighting for the poor; the vigilante is a good match for her with the same ambitions. The ending was abrupt and unsatisfying, leaving it open for a sequel.  Was there enough in this book to make me want to read the sequel when it comes out?  Maybe...  3 Elves - Recommended for teens and adults who don't mind unsatisfying endings

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review of The Witch Hunter-Virginia Boecker

I loved this debut novel about witches and a witch hunter.  Elizabeth is a witch hunter, but not by choice.  Orphaned when young, she is taken under the wing of Caleb, a witch hunter in training.  Soon she is also in training, believing that witches caused the plague that killed her parents so their capture is justified. But when she is thrown into prison for being accused of witchcraft & scheduled to be burned at the stake, she is rescued by a wizard who introduces her to many who use their magic for good, not evil.  She is attracted to John, a healer who saves her life from a fever she contracted in jail.  As she tries to break a curse that is threatening the life of the wizard, she begins to doubt the role of witch hunters and the Inquisitor, Lord Blackwell.  Although this novel is set up for a sequel, the ending is satisfying and thrilling.  4 Elves-Highly recommended for teens & adults

Monday, July 20, 2015

Review of The Heir-Kiera Cass

I read all of the books in the Selection series; this new novel is set 20 years later.  But, what annoyed me about the previous books  (the excessive romantic antics and fashion focus) was tempered by the political tension and attacks by rebels.  This book has the same issues without much tension until the very end, so the whole focus is on what the heroine is wearing and what boy she currently likes or doesn't like.  I'll try the sequel but don't hold out much hope.  2 Elves - recommended for romantics who love fashion only

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review of Say What You Will-Cammie McGovern

Amy is a senior in high school,  has cerebral palsy, can't walk well and speaks through a voice-activated computer.  When her mother hires some peers at school to assist her, hoping she'll finally make some friends, one of her helpers is a boy with OCD and problems of his own.  Amy & Matthew become friends, each hoping for more in this unlikely love story.  3 Elves - recommended for teens

Monday, July 6, 2015

Review of Extraordinary Means-Robyn Schneider

Like the last book reviewed, this novel is also about a driven teen who feels he has to excel at school, his social life, etc...  But, Lane becomes sick with a type of TB with no cure and is sent to a sanatorium/school; what happens at this facility changes his whole view of what is really important.  3 Elves - recommended for teens and adults

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review of The Kidney Hypothetical-Lisa Yee

Higgs Bosun Bing has it all: gorgeous girlfriend, high school achievements & an acceptance to Harvard.  But on his last week of school just before graduation, his girlfriend asks him if he would give her a kidney (hypothetically) and his answer changes his life & his future.  3 Elves - recommended for teens and adults

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review of Creature of Moonlight-Rebecca Hahn

A young girl is heir to the throne, but she is also the product of her mother and a dragon.  Creatures of the wood (including her dragon father) sing and call to her all day & night, urging her to come away to the woods.  The king of the land has killed her mother, the king's sister, and would like to kill her, too.  After the king imprisons her and plans her execution, she escapes to the woods in search of the dragon and answers.  3 Elves - Recommended for teens & adults.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review of The Winner's Crime-Marie Rutkoski

I loved the first book in this series (Winner's Curse) and surprisingly, this book was just as great.  Quickly, I was back in the kingdom of Valoria with the star-crossed couple, Kestral and Arin, at center stage.  To save Arin's homeland of Herran, Kestral has agreed to marry the crown prince but is soon embroiled in palace intrigue.  The suspense builds until Kestral discovers a plot that has made her sacrifice worthless, putting her life and Arin's at risk.  I can't wait for the next book!  4 Elves - Highly recommended for adults and teens

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review of Mosquitoland-David Arnold

Mim (AKA Mary Iris Malone) has been taken down to a town in Mississippi (that she dubs Mosquitoland) by her father and her new stepmom.  Her mother stays behind in Cleveland but when she learns her mother is sick, she take a coffee can full of cash and hopes on a Greyhound bus, bound for her mother and home.  Along the way, she meets incredible characters, some wonderful and some not, but by the end of her journey, she learns a lot about herself.  When she finally sees her mother again, Mim must rethink her past and her present.  4 Elves-Highly recommended for teens and adults

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Review of Red Queen-Victoria Aveyard

This new series has a rich fantasy world peopled by serfs and kings.  The monarchy and the ruling families (the Silver) have incredible super powers and their serfs, the Red, are without.  But thrown into their midst is a heroine who is a Red but has incredible Silver powers.  This causes huge shifts in power and an upstart revolution begins to have hope.  But in this game of power, who can she trust?  4 Elves- Highly recommended for teens and adults who love fantasy

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Review of Me & Earl & the Dying Girl-Jesse Andrews

Despite the presence of a dying girl in this book, there is a lot of smart, adolescent humor.  Greg is a loner who tries to get through high school without notice.  His best friend is Earl, who is full of rage because he's extremely short.  The two bond over weird films like Aguirre, Wrath of God and decide to make films equally strange & mysterious.  When a classmate, Rachel, is diagnosed with leukemia, Greg's mother forces him to visit her in the hospital.  Although they have nothing in common, she laughs at his inane jokes and soon he & Earl are sharing their films with her.  The ending is not typical, but the unforgettable characters work their way into your heart.  3 Elves-Recommended for teens

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review of Belzhar-Meg Wolitzer

Jam has lost the love of her life and her parents, unsure what to do with a depressed teen, send her to a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont. She is enrolled in an exclusive class called Special Topics in English, taught by a teacher who will retire when the semester ends.  When the teacher gives her small group of students a vintage journal with instructions to write in it at least twice a week, each student begins to write and finds themselves in a land where their greatest trauma is still in the future.  Jam is with her wonderful British boyfriend before he dies and each time, she finds five pages full of writing when she returns.  As the end of the semester comes to an end and the journal is nearly full, what will happen to the land where the past never changes?  4 Elves - Highly recommended for teens

Monday, February 16, 2015

Review of Zac & Mia-A.J. Betts

If you were a fan of the TV show Red Band Society, you will like this book.  Two teens connect in a cancer ward and must find strength in each other to move forward.  Both characters are believable as their unlikely friendship is forged through extraordinary circumstances.  3 Elves - Recommended for teens and adults

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review of Fairest-Marissa Meyer

A shorter work than others in the Lunar Chronicles series, this is the story of Levana, the queen of Luna.  We find out why she is so cruel and what happened in her life to make her that way.  It's interesting to read her back story, but also the history of both Selene and Winter.  In addition, there is a preview of the last book in the series, Winter. 3 Elves - Recommended for teens and adults

Friday, February 13, 2015

Review of I Was Here-Gayle Forman

Another YA book about teen suicide - an important subject.  This novel is both about the person who committed suicide and mainly about the friends and family she left behind.  Cody's best friend committed suicide, but she didn't have a clue that her friend was even contemplating the action. Cody begins a journey to find out why this happened and discovers an inner strength she didn't know existed.  This is a compelling and important book about depression, friendship, secrets and love.  4 Elves - Highly recommended for teens and adults

Monday, February 9, 2015

Review of All the Bright Places-Jennifer Niven

Now I understand all of the awards and accolades for this book!  This incredible novel is lyrical and heartbreaking, with believable characters and situations.  Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at their high school and both of them, for different reasons, are in despair.  Without the ledge, they would never have met, since Violet is popular and Finch is a "freak".  But, they find strength in each other.  As Violet begins to find her way out of depression, can Finch find his way?  No spoilers here - you'll just have to read this remarkable book.  Unforgettable!  4 Elves - Highly recommended for teens and adults who remember what it was like to be a teen

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review of Snow Like Ashes-Sara Raasch

A wonderful, epic fantasy, this debut novel has it all: a fascinating world controlled by magic, an orphan soldier girl on the run for her life, and two young courageous men, one a king and the other a prince.  Our heroine, Meira, has been in hiding from an evil magician who conquered her kingdom sixteen years ago and enslaved the citizens, except for a small band of soldiers hoping to win their kingdom back.  In this fantasy world, there are 4 kingdoms relating to the seasons and 4 kingdoms relating to rhythms; the most powerful kingdom is Spring, with the evil king who wants to rule and enslave all the others.  But, the ruler hasn't counted on Meira's bravery or magic powers... The ending is satisfying, while leaving room for a sequel.  4 Elves - Highly recommended for teens & pre-teens (and all adults who love fantasy)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review of Talon-Julie Kagawa

I was so excited to read a new series about dragons, and this book didn't disappoint.  Ember and her brother, Dante, are dragons that can take human form.  Hunted by the human soldiers of St. George, the dragon organization called Talon sends the siblings on a mission to infiltrate human society in a beach town in southern California.  Ember is thrilled to act like a teenager for once in her life and instantly takes to the beach, new friends and surfing.  While their training to fight St. George continues, Ember has time to fall in love with a human (which is forbidden).  When this human turns out to be a soldier for St. George searching for Ember and her brother, their love seems doomed... or is it? Please hurry with the sequel!  4 Elves - Highly recommended for pre-teens and teens

Review of Love Letters to the Dead-Ava Dellaira

Laurel has just started high school, and her first English assignment is to write a love letter to someone dead.  Having recently lost her beloved sister and starting school away from childhood friends, Laurel starts writing love letters to Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Amelia Earhart  and Heath Ledger, and we learn her story from these letters.  With a broken family and a tortured adolescence, Laurel has a lot to say, and more of her life is revealed with each letter.  This novel is haunting and lyrical and wonderful.  4 Elves - Highly recommended for teens

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Review of The Winner's Curse-Marie Rutkoski

This epic fantasy is beautifully written & fearlessly plotted, with wonderful characters.  The author has created a believable world full of conquerors and slaves who rebel.  Kestral, the general's daughter, buys a slave, Arin, and that act changes her life and his.  I hope there will be more books in this world because I wasn't ready to leave when it ended.  4 Elves - Highly recommended for pre-teens and teens (and adults)