This is my FAVOURITE book in the Middle Grade section. Poignant, powerful, twisty fantasy with a likable rogue of a protagonist. Just imagine undertaking a quest for a religious icon that may not exist...and the quest is so dangerous that it might kill you. Picture this quest occurring in a landscape reminiscent of Ancient Greece with their Polytheistic culture intact long past the Renaissance. You then should have an idea of where this series might be going. A wonderful start to an amazing series that I have read and reread (and reread). It's fun for boys and girls and great in the classroom as well.
Behold, one of the most influential British fantasy authors that you have never heard of before. Peake was a contemporary of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and wrote this series during World War II when Europe was in the thick of it. Titus Groan begins this weird anti-monarchy fantasy that was written as an anti-fascist statement (and illustrated by the author too!). It's about a long-reigning noble family of miscreants who are absurd and stuck in their traditions and one grasping, Machiavellian kitchen boy determined to take them down. The best anti-hero ever, the best weird customs, the origin of Mannerpunk... I could go on and on. There are three originating with Peake with a fourth written recently by Peake's wife (he died in the 60's from Parkinson's). It's literary, but no more so than Tolkien, and it's a slow burn but deliciously unexpected in the best ways.
Like Sookie Stackhouse? So does Nicole Peeler. Tempest Rising is the first of a series following Jane True, a young woman recovering from the death of her first love in Rockabill, Maine. Jane has always been an outcast but she doesn’t know true that is until now. Funny and sweet, sexy and scandalous, Peeler’s first foray into the Trueniverse is satirical and smart and so much fun.
Read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins? Divergent by Veronica Roth? Then here’s your next series. Legend follows June, the most promising young woman of her generation. June has been hired by the government to track down the most notorious criminal (who is making them look like idiots) - Day. Day is just as brilliant as June and skirts her every attempt to apprehend him with hilarious results. Alternating POVs draw you through this action-packed series with breakneck speed. Great for boys. Great for girls. Great for young and old.
The end of the world is imminent. People have fled to underground colonies for survival. A smaller percentage lives on the Death Shop, a wasteland filled with deadly lightning storms. Aria has been exiled from Reverie to the Death Shop where she encounters Perry, the reason that she was exiled. Fast and wonderful and dual-sided and richly characterized, this series will keep you obsessed until the last page.
Plus an added bonus, you get to meet Roar, and for that reason I am envious of you. I would love to meet him again for the first time.
Creepy and fast, this is a great book for the reader who loves creeping dread. Cas Lowood has the worst case of “sins of the Father” handed to him when he takes up the family career - killing ghosts. While hunting for the ghost who murdered his father, he unearths a tip that pits him against the baddest ghost of his career - Anna dressed in blood. This book is a superb ghost story and has a terrific sequel as well.
I used to never read contemporary romance. That all changed when I discovered Stephanie Perkins. Follow Anna as she travels to Paris to attend school. There she meets Etienne St. Clair; the unavailable and perpetually charming French-Brit who steals her heart. Anna struggles with issues of self but comes out the better for her difficulties. And, through it all, we get an insider’s view of Paris, Anna’s truest love. I wish this book was around when I was 12.
If you like Anna its sequels, Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After, are equally charming.
Flora is the best heroine. She has a lot of spunk. She also has a lot of responsibility; taking care of a massive home (Crackpot Hall) while her Mother (a workaholic) and her Father (an alcoholic) remain largely absent from her life. One day, while wandering the sprawling (and ever-changing) home she stumbles upon the long disappeared bibliotheque, releasing the old, deposed butler from his isolation. Funny, gorgeous writing and a precocious heroine…what more can you ask for?
Fans of her long running Vampire Academy and Bloodlines books know how much Mead loves her worldbuilding. This is the series that she was born to write. In this, she envisions a future North America where the crimes run rampant and different world religions influence all. But it’s also a buddy series with a likably unlikable male lead and a more-than-she-seems genetically modified soldier, Mae, who is as terrifying as the Valkyries of old. Shades of Biopunk and Mythpunk color every aspect of this series, but it ultimately comes down to the wonderful cast of characters that give it its zest. For fans of Neil Gaiman, Maggie Steifvater, Charles de Lint, and everything Richelle Mead.
“I will keep the color of your eyes when no other in the world remembers your name.”
Has any line in a book ever been so perfect? Has any story endured like the tale of a lone unicorn, the last of her kind, on an eventful journey to find others like her? This book examines self and acceptance while also dabbling in issues of identity, truth vs. beauty, fear and, ultimately, happiness. It’s just as wonderful as you remember it, and, for those who have yet to read it, you are in for a real treat.
I have a soft spot for Thomas Hardy. Tess was my first foray into his world of Wessex, an imagined bucolic English countryside. Challenging for its times, Tess follows a young woman as she comes-of-age among terrible circumstances. A moral tale that protests sexual and cultural mores, this book is as relevant today as it was over a hundred years ago when it was first published. Plus, the scenes within the dairy farm are the stuff of truly Romantic books (as opposed to Romance-novels-slash-Fabio-on-the-cover).
I resist every Bronte retelling for fear that they won’t live up to their ever-impressive source material. I am a convert with this book. Lindner skillfully captivates this ardent Bronte enthusiast by reimagining a modern day Jane Eyre. Now a nanny to a once-popular rock star, Jane explores a world of musical prestige that she is wholly unprepared for all the while falling for her intriguing boss. The themes are perfect, the execution flawless. Lindner is one to watch out fo. She has also retold Wuthering Heights (Catherine) and A Room with a View (Love, Lucy)...and both are equally good.
“Eat like you give a f@!k.”
As a committed omnivore, I have no interest in ever undertaking a vegan diet. I do, however, love to make food from this book. Silly, irreverent, and uproarious, the authors present recipes free of animal product that can just as easily be adapted to satisfy any carnivore (believe me on this one). The roasted sriracha cauliflower bites and lentil tacos are worth the price of the book alone. Want to eat more millet, jicama, nutritional yeast, and chia seeds? This book will help. Trust me, I have embraced eating the f@!k out of all of these things.
This book is perfect for fans of John Green. Looking for lyrical prose and self-aware characters? Look no further than Ezra and Cassidy! Ezra, reeling from a life-altering car accident has begun his senior year of high school. Once and athletic darling, he is now forced to navigate the awkward social waters of life-after-sports. Enter Cassidy, the new girl who doesn’t give any care to her own social standing. Ezra, intrigued by this attitude, is drawn to Cassidy like a moth to flame. Devastating, wonderful, realistic, and, above all, memorable.
Need a guidebook to the ways of using different flavors? This book is about to become your new best friend. I grew up under the hands of trained chefs. My husband did not. As such, our palettes are very different. Since acquiring this, my husband has learned to enhance food with simple tricks from “What can I add to pork and pineapple to make it more savory?” and “I have tarragon and saffron, what meat and vegetable can I add to compliment them?”. Have similar thought process while in the kitchen? Need inspiration? Here’s your new food bible.
And don’t forget to check out the newly released Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page as well.
Has there ever been a kiss written in all of literature that was as perfect as the thimble scene? Don’t believe me? Here’s the book. It’s perfect every time I reread it and so much fun for Lost Boys/Girls and Pirates alike. Why grow up when you can read a book that brings you swashbuckling, flying, mermaids, treehouses, and Native camps? If you need me, I’ll be in my bed fort with this one.
In the future, people with mental abilities must hide themselves. Paige works with the rebellion collecting information on people. One day, she attacks and accidentally kills a man through mental combat. She is hunted down, tried, and thrown into Sheol 1; a penal colony run by the Rephaim; beings who survive off of human auras. She is bound to a Rephaite man, the blood consort Arcturus (whom Paige calls Warden). The book follows her rehabilitation and sets up a dynamic between Paige and Warden that will intrigue the reader throughout the whole series.
Simply put: This is the best fantasy novel that I have read in a decade. Stunning!!!
This is an old favourite from my childhood. A group of rabbits’ home is endangered and they must travel to find a new burrow where they can set up their warren. Circumventing superstition, a powerful overlord, and the hand of Man, the rabbits come through much adversity to attain their goal. Powerful, humane, harsh, wonderful, this book will stay with you long afterwards.
I used to use Andre Norton and Mercedes’s Lackey’s Halfblood Chronicles as my means of measuring dragon epics. Since reading Seraphina, I now use this book. Rachel Hartman’s world of fantasy and dragon politics is nothing short of wonderful. Dragons walk amongst us, albeit in human form, and half-breeds are anathema. Enter Seraphina, an ityasaari born of a human and dragon union. Seraphina is the musical tutor for the Princess of Goredd…and it just gets better from there. I want to live in Hartman’s world!
Oh, this book is cool! Alternate history circa World War 1. We follow one narrator who is the heir to the Austrian throne. He is on the run following the assassination of the Emperor. The second POV is a young woman who has joined the British military forces as she cross-dresses her way into the army. Oh, and one side has living battle ships while the other fights with mechanized robots...yeah. It’s really cool. Fast-paced and perfect for boys and girls (like me).
Bonus points: Illustrations!!!
It starts in a figure studies class in Prague and goes from there. Karou, an art student, runs errands for Brimstone, a chimaera who raised her. Thus sets up a novel about ancient grudges, The Fallen, a face from her past, and currency in the form of teeth and wishes. This book is a slow burn but it’s a stunning, glorious flame. I am constantly amazed by the beauty of Taylor’s writing.
Russian Folklore?! Uchronic Fantasy?! Sold!
Alina has been taken by the Darkling following an incident in the shadow fold. Alina is the sun summoner, a person of legend whose magical powers are coveted. As such, she is the rarest of the rare and must be trained as a Grisha for the Darkling’s purposes. Brimming with intrigue and lush with detail, this series will hook the most ardent fantasy enthusiasts from page one.
I hated reading Grenouille when I picked this book up. He’s one of the most one-dimensional, vain, insufferable characters ever...and I ate up every bit of this book, and licked the spoon afterwards. Grenouille has a fantastic sense of smell, so much so that he wants to create the most flawless perfumes in all of the world...and you won’t believe how he achieves this. If you like antiheroes, look no further.
Fun fact: This was one of Kurt Kobain’s favourite books and inspired the classic Nirvana song “Scentless Apprentice”.
This was my favourite book of the year a few back. Magic and mystery finds Silla, newly orphaned after her parent’s death, in the possession of a journal of her Father’s. Now, while practicing the magic that requires the cost of blood, she meets Nick, an outsider who witnesses her practicing magic. What happens next will live in my head and heart as one of the best examples of YA Romance that I have ever read. Plus drama performances, masks, all matters of drama, comedy, and a swoon-worthy hero. LOVE this book!
This was another favourite a few years back. Modo was born with a disfigurement. At the same time, he has an ability to change his features. Taken in by Mr. Socrates, who exploits Modo’s shape-changing abilities for his own purposes. Mystery, espionage, intrigue...what’s not to love?! Also, each book in the series pays homage to a different Victorian classic.
This is one of the most fun books that I read in a long time. Imagine if Frank Herbert, George Lucas, Terry Gilliam, and Jules Verne have a book baby together. You might have something like this book. Philip Reeve creates a universe where Sir Isaac Newton invented an alchemical process that can be used to fuel starships. Now imagine that the British and the French have use this process to take their colonization feud into space? The result is a place where people live in the furthest reaches during the Victorian period, fish who can swim (and breathe) in the aether, and children being raised in remote locales. Oh, and there’s also space pirates, giant spiders, loads of footnotes, and illustrations. Hilarity ensues.
Once again, Philip Reeve is the master. In the future, a war has wiped out most resources and cities. The remaining cities have mobilized themselves on traction motors and roam around the wastelands collecting resources and the biggest city always wins. When a Historian’s apprentice and Archaeologist’s daughter find themselves on the outside of London, they must chase it down in order to stop the plans of a madman.
Added bonus: This book has one of the best chase sequences that I have ever read.
Like fairy-tale retellings? This is one of the best out there. It’s Cinderella retold where she is a Cyborg mechanic on a planet ravaged by a plague...And there’s an evil queen trying to wipe out other young women (who are also characters in their own fairy tale retelling). Awesome! Plus, she’s not a Drippy female lead. I love how jaded and sassy and in control of her own agency she is.
Sequels are Scarlet, Cress, Winter (Companion book), and the upcoming Winter (November 2015).
This is one of the most inventive stories that I have ever read in a long time. Bertie lives in a theatre where the casts of famous plays are real, bound there by a magic book. Funny, magical, faeries and monologues and living Shakespeare characters (oh my!)... plus, the love interests are really cool.
Everyone knows that faeries don’t exist. Try telling Kaye that, who has seen them since childhood. Now, a young woman, she is sucked into their intrigue and is trying to keep the casualties to a dull roar. Gritty, dark full of surprises, Tithe draws the reader away from the safe, pretty world of Tinkerbell and company and into a realm where the faeries are the true stuff of nightmares.
Petra is the spunky girl that you want in your fantasy, and, more importantly, want your daughter reading. Between talking tin spiders, stolen eyes made into “eye”glasses, acid-sweating dye mistresses, ghost fingers, trapped lightning, and astronomical clocks, there is enough imagination to satisfy any fantasy enthusiasts. Perfect for fans of Diana Wynne Jones and Hiyao Miyazaki films.
Aishlinn sees fairies. She doesn’t want to, but she does. When a fairy named Keenan keeps pursuing her, she is drawn into an ancient battle between warring courts, even though all she wants is a friendly boy back home who lives in a train. Dark and intriguing, perfect for fans of Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.
“The Elders had known the twins were coming. “The twins that are one, the one that is all.” One to save the world and one to destroy it. But which one is which?”
Read a fantastic take on the life of Nicholas Flamel, made popular in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scott takes classic literary figures, real people, world mythologies, and jumbles them all together (and yes, Flamel was a real person). You’ll love the familiar faces from the past that show up. Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
This is one of my favourite books (and series) from my childhood. It is my Harry Potter. I read these over and over again. Taran wants to be a warrior. Too bad he is only an assistant Pig-Keeper, but with the evil Horned King on the rise he may yet be able to prove himself a hero. Based on Welsh Mythology and heavily awarded, this is a perfect series for boys and girls, for fans of Rangers Apprentice.
I’m usually not a Murder Mystery fan because I can almost always call the killer. That said, I read this bestseller and was completely riveted. Set in Sweden, Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist, has been hired to solve a 30 year old cold-case. While investigating, he cross paths with Lisbeth Salander, a genius, outsider, computer hacker. Lisbeth and Mikael’s journey to resolve the crime is fascinating, gripping, and hard-to-watch, but it’s a thrilling read nonetheless. Lisbeth is one of the most extraordinary characters that I have ever read.
This is a beautifully written, intensely plotted boook perfect for fans of The Hunger Games, Matched, and the Divergent Series. All-powerful totalitarian governments? Love as a disease? Excellent!
Suspense, drama, good vs. evil, and a hot bad boy trying to kill you...What more can you ask for? Follow Nora through many scrapes as she decides who to trust, who to be wary of, and whether her heart can take it all. I love this series. Bad angels are the best angels!
The Society provides everything from food and clothing to suitable life partners. But what if the choices they make are wrong? Gentle, yet disturbing, this amazing series that begins with Matched encourages the reader not to go gentle into any goodnight.
Clary thinks she is an ordinary 15-year-old, an artist who creates things from the air. That all ends when she witnesses a murder in an all-ages club one night. Obsessed with the people she saw, she is suddenly drawn into a dark world; a world of demons, vampires, faeries, warlocks...and all must be hunted down. Addictive and action-packed, this series will suck you in...and the romantic plot twist will leave you dazzled.
Mara was in an accident. She now sees ghosts everywhere. The more she remembers the more it could be her undoing. A fast-paced, romantic thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. Very fun. Very good!
Ready for a captivating journey? Elissa’s is remarkable. The religious mythos that Carson has created is complex and engrossing. This is a great, empowering book for fans of Kristin Cashore, Leigh Bardugo, Tamora Pierce, and Rachel Hartman.
Ten teens...ten days...one killer.
Like horror movies? You’ll love this suspense thriller. It’s a retelling of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and it’s great!
Want a rollicking good laugh? Then, by all means, read Christopher Moore’s Lamb as soon as possible. That has been my standard response since discovering this book. Lamb follows the life of Jesus (Joshua) Christ as told through the eyes of his less-than-angelic, blasphemous, hormonally driven best friend, Biff. Read the life of Nazareth’s most notorious son from a humorous, irreverent, often cringe-worthy yet laugh-out-loud hilarious account. Friendly for recovering Christians and the practicing faithful alike.
This is a gorgeously written book full of depth, mood, and heart. Combine the atmosphere of a Tennessee Williams play and the soul of To Kill a Mockingbird and give it a good teen angsty romance... it’s good! It’s oh so good! One of my favourite teen books. Memorable and gorgeous.
Conn steals a magic stone from the wizard Nevery who, in turn, takes him on as an apprentice. This wonderfully magical series is both moody and funny. It feels like Charles Dickens writing Magic! For fans of Harry Potter, Diana Wynne Jones, and Diane Duane.
A truly monumental series. Good versus evil, wit wisdom, humor… and blood-curdling adventure. These books are perfect transitional reads for anyone looking for a really good story. For fans of Warriors, Guardians of Ga’Hoole, and Ranger’s Apprentice.
Jones is one of my favourite authors and her Chrestomanci books are among her best works. Now you can read two stories bound in one. Jones is responsible for heavily influencing the “Magic School” stories that we are now so familiar with. In fact, J.K. Rowling was likened to (and accused of lifting content from) Jones when her first Harry Potter was released. Wry, witty, British, captivating, enchanting… this is everything that I want in my fantasy.
Gillian (hard G sound) Flynn has stirred the thriller genre in the last few years. Reading Gone Girl I can easily see why. Watch two people in love slowly disintegrate over a five year marriage. When Amy disappears on the anniversary of their wedding, Nick feels relief and fear all at once. When the investigation quickly turns to him, it’s all he can do to prove his innocence in the face of mounting evidence against him. Gritty, grim, horrifying, ugly...this book has some of the most horrific people that I have ever read (and I don’t read many mysteries, so that tells you how good this is!).
What a great book! The heroine reminds me of a more progressive Anne Shirley. Calpurnia wants to study science but her mother has other ideas for her. Nature and animals, family and friend dynamics...everyone should read this book.
Jane Eyre is such a great book. I’ve read it a couple of times in my life and it keeps getting better. Take an orphan’s rise through traumatic abuse and follow her into life post-school as a Governess for the enigmatic Mr. Rochester. The gothic twists in this book are wonderful and Jane’s moving voice still rings true even centuries later. How can you not love this book?
Wuthering Heights and I are old friends. Take a starving boy and put him into a good house and see what happens to him even as he endures bigotry, bullying, and a love that will not ignore his meager beginnings...*Sigh* poor Heathcliff! Angst-riddled and full of romantic rectangles, this book has touched so many generations and will continue to find it’s way into reader’s hearts.
The Penderwicks is such a great tale. Take four sisters and put them on an estate to explore for the length of a summer vacation and you have the makings of something great. Each sister is wonderfully characterized and dynamic. Who can withstand Batty’s imagination? Her make-believe games (“Blood! Blood!”)? Reads like Hiyao Miyazaki adapting Little Women.