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Archive for the ‘Fantasy/Alternative World’ Category

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When we think of summer reading, we think of books we choose because we like them—books for fun.

In the past I’ve read long lists of YA books over the summer and have encouraged you to read some of them as well. This year I think I need to feed my soul with some not-so-light adult books that probably don’t have wide teen appeal. I will also be reading some books about bullying—both the cyber sort and the in-person attacks. (I listed choices in a recent post.)

Since I think you should pick some fun reads for summer, I hope you’ll read some YA books that are soon to be movies. Reading the book before you see the movie provides a good opportunity for you to compare and contrast two works; it’s a great way to think at a higher level without even realizing that your brain is working.

 Win-win.

 So many good teen books are coming as movies in the next few years. Here are some that I’ve read and reviewed:

 2013:

Catching Fire

(Second book in the Hunger Games trilogy)

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

The Great Gatsby

(OK, it’s an adult book, but teens read it in school, it’s short, and it’s great—

romance, betrayal, mobsters–all the stuff teens love)

2014 and possibly 2015:

Divergent

Graceling

The Knife of Never Letting Go

(first book in the Chaos Walking series)

Incarceron

The Maze Runner

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

The Fault in Our Stars

(Yea! It will star Shailene Woodley as Hazel. No word on Gus yet.)

Coming as movies soon, but I haven’t had the chance to read the books yet:

Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Tunnels by Roderick Gordon

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (and Jane Austen, of course.)

Actually, I have had the chance to read this one,

but I didn’t like it, and I quit after a few chapters.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Have a great summer reading on your own and at the theater!

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days of blood

Look what arrived in both our libraries–book 2:

Days of Blood & Starlight

Come on over and check it out!

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Heroes Arise by Laurel Anne Hill 

I was taking some friendly teasing the other day about how I always complain in reviews that fantasy books are too long and boring because they are repetitive. “Have you ever read a fantasy book that you really like? A lot?”

I have. A few years ago, I read the novel Heroes Arise with my son. When we finished, he asked if there was a sequel–a sign that he’d liked the book.

Just about anyone might enjoy Heroes Arise as the story deals with honor and loyalty, but for fans of fantasy, this is a good fit. The main characters, except for one human (Rheemar) are ‘kren’—sort of human reptiles.

Gundack, a desert kren is traveling to seek a blessing on his impending marriage from the spirit of his murdered wife (Talla). After he meets the human Rheemar, they, along with other desert kren are attacked by mountain kren. The mountain kren are led by the remorseless Tarr, the raider. Both Gundack and Rheemar have a vendetta to seek against Tarr—it was he who killed Gundack’s wife and who has either murderer or mutilated Rheemar’s sister. Yet Rheemar and Gundack are from very different worlds—whether Gundack should trust the human is open to question.

The kren and the human, along with fellow kren and sandship lizards, brave poisonous web-threaders and dangerous terrain to get to “Tharda’s Bowl” where the spirit of Gundack’s wife can be contacted. Whether Gundack should trust Rheemar is always open to question as the action of the novel shows Rheemar to be suspect.

While Heroes Arise has some minor faults—a bit of odd dialogue is one—the world that Hill creates is carefully constructed. Moving through it is an adventure. The novel is just 200 pages, so it meets that magic marker that teachers often require of a book for class assignments. Yet, there’s none of the dreadfully long and boring repetition that is the hallmark of fantasy fiction. It’s a quick read.

I read Heroes Arise because I met the publisher—a small press owner who is encouraging writers by publishing their works—at a conference. I love being able to support unknown—or newly emerging—authors, so I bought the book, read it aloud with my son, and donated it to the collection at COHS, which is available to anyone who has an Ontario City Library card. Now that I’ve been challenged as a ‘fantasy hater,’ I may have to scrap together a few pennies and buy another copy or two and add it to book talks.

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The newest–come check them out!

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

When her estranged grandmother dies and leaves her mother the family home on Selkie Island, seventeen-year-old Miranda meets her mother on the Georgia island, where she discovers mysterious family secrets and another side to her logical, science-loving self.

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

New York high school student Elizabeth gets an after-school job as a page at the “New-York Circulating Material Repository,” and when she gains coveted access to its Grimm Collection of magical objects, she and the other pages are drawn into a series of frightening adventures involving mythical creatures and stolen goods.

Loss (Riders of the Apocalypse) by Jackie Morse Kessler (guy appeal)

A lifetime of being bullied has left fifteen-year-old Billy angry and frightened, but when he is tricked into becoming Pestilence, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with the power to inflict diseases, he travels through time and memory to find Death in hopes of escaping his fate.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

When shy sixteen-year-old Helen Hamilton starts having vivid dreams about three ancient, hideous women and suddenly tries to kill a new student at her Nantucket high school, she discovers that she is playing out some version of an old tale involving Helen of Troy, the Three Furies, and a mythic battle.

Shadows of the Moon by Zoe Marriott

Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume, who is able to re-create herself in any form, is destined to use her skills to steal the heart of a prince in a revenge pot.

Liberator by Richard Harland (guy appeal)

After the Filthies seize control of the massive juggernaut Worldshaker, now called Liberator, members of the former elite, Swanks, remain to teach them, but class differences continue to cause strife and even Col and Riff may be unable to bring unity.

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

Victor Frankenstein as a teen: When his grieving father orders the destruction of the Dark Library, Victor retrieves a book in which he finds the promise of not just communicating with the dead, but entering their realm, and soon he, Elizabeth, and Henry are in the spirit world of Chateau Frankenstein, creating and growing a body.

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New York Times bestselling author Lauren Kate will be at the

Ovitt Library in Ontario:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

3:30-5:30 PM

Bring books for signing. Books will also be available for purchase at the event. For more information, please call 909-395-2225.

If Kate is new to you, think paranormal romance–fallen angels, and star-crossed lovers with past lives.

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   A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

Yes! A future fantasy/romance/dystopia that that tells a creative story and keeps the pace moving!

If you’ve read other reviews of fantasy fiction here, you know that I am hard to please when it comes to the pace of the book—so many seem to bog down in frivolous detail. But A Long, Long Sleep will keep you awake and engaged. There’ s lots of action, there’s unrequited love, and, yes, there’s an opportunity for the protagonist to come to terms with her past.

And Rosalinda Fitzroy’s past is along one. She’s about a hundred years old. But she is biologically sixteen. That’s because she has spent most of her life in a stasis tube—suspended in a dream world from which she generates her artistic ideas.

As a child, Rosalinda’s parents—probably the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet—would put her into a chemically-induced sleep each time they needed to take an interplanetary trip or just needed a break from childrearing. But in her last stint in the stasis tube, no one remembered to wake Rose up. She stayed asleep for sixty-two years, missing the Dark Times (and a plague) that destroyed half the earth’s population. When she is awakened—it appears that her prince charming has come to kiss her, though he’s actually shocked to find her and is trying to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation—her parents are long dead and the love of her life has also disappeared.

Rose tries to remake her life as an ordinary high school girl. But the facts of her life make her a bit creepy to most of the other students. Her love interest (and the prince charming who woke her), Bren, seems to be nice only because he’s nice to everyone, and his parents want him to look out for Rose. She best connects with a blue-skinned half-alien boy, Otto, who has also been used experimentally. In addition, Rose is the heir to her parents’ galaxy-spanning company, but she hasn’t the least idea of how to run a business. Nothing goes very well, and Rose uses her painting as an outlet.

Though this future isn’t entirely dystopian—the world is a better place after the plague; there is financial stability and people have plenty—technology has created a life-threatening problem for Rose in the form of a Plastine. This Plastine is something of a robot that is programmed either to return Rose to the target, or, if unable to find the target, kill her. And this guy is unstoppably strong. So Rose must figure out why the Plastine is out to get her. And as she grows stronger, she wonders: what could have kept her parents from waking her up?

Like Cinder, A Long, Long Sleep just begins with a fairytale premise (here, it’s obviously Sleeping Beauty) and jets off into the future with a dash of science fiction. It’s a lot of fun to hitch a ride. This novel is appropriate for all teens.

 

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  Entwined by Heather Dixon

I just finished Entwined, and I think it could be a favorite summer read for fantasy fiction lovers. (If you don’t like fantasy, you may not make it through the first half although the second half has lots of action and excitement.)

Entwined is a creative riff on the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses or The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes. In that tale, the king couldn’t figure out where the girls went to dance all night, but they always wore out their shoes by morning. He challenges young men of the kingdom to figure it out. If they do, they may marry a princess. If not, they are killed. In Entwined, the stakes aren’t quite so high—the era, though not stated specifically, is more modern, and marriage contracts a bit more enlightened. Since the family’s horses are named after famous authors like Dickens and Thackeray, we can at least suppose that the period is post-Industrial Revolution.

The twelve sisters of Entwined are certainly princesses, but they are both poor (taxes in the realm haven’t been raised in a century) and grieving. As the novel opens, their beloved mother dies after giving birth to her twelfth daughter, Lily, on Christmas Eve. Though in mourning for a year, the girls are desperate to dance. Their mother was a wonderful dancer, and they think she wouldn’t have wanted them to stop enjoying life. Happily—or so they believe—they find a secret passage in their magic castle which leads them to the Keeper. In his fantastical ballroom, the girls dance to an unearthly orchestra.

But the Keeper has evil plans for the girls, especially for Azalea, the eldest of sisters, all named for flowers, and in alphabetical order at that. (Bramble, Clover, Delphinium, etc.—the king really likes order). Here the fantasy combines with an almost horror element, and the dances and the outcome of the girls’ relationship with the Keeper is truly creepy. It’s fascinating reading.

Still, this is one for the honest-to-goodness fantasy fans. There are many descriptions of the girls’ clothing and their sewing habits. The author never fails to remind the reader that a certain character has a chocolaty smooth voice or that another has a honey-sweet voice—it’s repeated every time they speak as is the mention that the girls’ dresses rustle, billow, etc. whenever they move. Though I am learning, as I am reading more fantasy novels now, that this is standard in that genre, someone looking for a fast-paced book may not read long enough to get to the more horrific elements. But if you love magic, innocent romance, gentle humor, and a strong bond among sister, absolutely put Entwined on your reading list.

Special note: If you love to dance, if you love the history of dances, or if you are required to read a piece of fiction and then research some ‘real’ element from it, and hope to find a book that discusses specific forms of dance and dances, I highly recommend this novel.

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