Ink and Bone

Rachel Caine’s new series The Great Library is off to a promising start.  Book one Ink and  Bone introduces us to a futuristic world with steampunk elements.  Jess has never known a time when the Great Library doesn’t rule over everyone.  It dictates what people can read and only allows books to be read via tablet: real physical books are forbidden.  His family specializes in black market books so when the opportunity arises for a job within the library his father doesn’t hesitate to pay for him to get an audition.  It would be perfect having a family member inside the library working as a spy.  But once Jess starts his journey he finds that things are not that simple and in fact they are quite deadly.

What an outstanding beginning.  The atmosphere was engrossing and detailed.  I could feel myself in the gritty side streets of London as well as the sweltering desert of Egypt.  I also liked that in many ways this futuristic world felt old and reminiscent of the Industrial age.  This book was complex with layers of intrigue and I enjoyed learning key tidbits (both past and present) through letters between the heads of the library.  I should also mention, that this book is packed with action.  Whether it be with the tests that the candidates have to complete or braving a war zone, I often found myself quickly turning the page to see if everyone was okay.  That being said, Caine never  sacrifices her character development.  Jess went from being a bullied son to finding his courage, using his intelligence, and creating lifelong friendships.  This is a great read for fans of the Divergent series, Infernal Devices or all book lovers.

Perfectionists

Perfectionists by Sara Shepard is the beginning of an exciting and suspenseful new series. In Beacon Heights, the only thing acceptable is perfection. You need to be the best athlete or the best musician or the most popular girl and of course get into the best college. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be good. So when five girls realize that they all hate the same person it is easy to plan his murder-or at least his hypothetical murder. But what happens when someone follows through with the murder? How can you prove your innocence when the deck is stacked against you? Thus begins the Perfectionists series.

If you have enjoyed Pretty Little Liars, then you are sure to love this series too. Shepard is so good at getting you all tangled up trying to figure out who the killer is. Each time you think you have a clue you end up right back where you started. The characters are fun to follow and have just enough personal drama to make you want more. This is a great beach read.

 

We All Looked Up

We all Looked Up by Tommy Wallach is a page-turning tale about living your life as if today is your last day.  For four seniors this philosophy is very literal since there is a large asteroid heading towards earth with a 66.6% chance of striking the planet.  Suddenly things like college and high school seem very trivial, but do you allow yourself to to go crazy or do you carry on like normal?  What would you do if you had short time to live?

This story is told from the perspective of 4 different high school teens. Each one shows honesty and strength in a world that has been turned upside down. If you are looking for believable and real characters, this would be an excellent choice.

 

Dorothy Must Die

Danielle Paige’s book Dorothy Must Die is a dark and twisted  adaptation of the Wizard of Oz story.  Amy hasn’t had the easiest life in Kansas.  She lives with her indifferent addict of a mother in the trailer park and is often bullied at school.  However she is making plans to leave her small town for bigger and better thins, she just didn’t realize it would come so soon rather than later.  Sucked up into a huge tornado Amy finds herself dumped into the land of OZ – yep it really does exist.  This is the not the fun, bright and whimsical Oz that Dorothy found herself in.  This is the magic being brutally mined from the ground, flying monkey’s being tortured, munchkins forced into indenture servitude Oz and Amy learns that Dorothy must die.

I really liked this story.  I am going to begin by saying, I am not a Wizard of Oz fan –  at all. However I was so intrigued by the name and premise that I had to read this book.   Paige’s interpretations of all our beloved favorites like the cowardly lion, scarecrow and tinman were terrifying and imaginative.  I could feel the tinman’s sharp knives and I could feel the lions teeth.  I found myself mesmerized by Paige’s descriptions.  There were moments of  intense creepiness, but they were so well done that I had to keep reading.  I also liked Amy.  She is witty, sarcastic and has a little spunk about her.   A reluctant hero she might be, but once she decides to commit to the cause she does it with her whole being – regardless of the cost to herself.  If you are looking for a new read that is dark and edgy that also has great characters this is the book to read.

Insurgent

Wow! Veronica Roth takes us on an incredible roller coaster of ride in Insurgent, book two in the Divergent series.  Tris should be celebrating with her faction after making it through the initiations, but instead she is trying to overcome the tremendous amount of grief and guilt she has after the terrible Abnegation genocide. A war has been building and Erudite has forced everyone’s hand to decide which side they are fighting for and frankly Tris isn’t sure if either side is right. All that she knows is that she must uncover what her parents were desperately trying to hide, so much so that they gave their lives to protect the secret.

This book was non-stop action and so hard to put down. Divergent did a great job of introducing the characters and how their world is, but Insurgent takes you so much further into the politics and different factions.  Roth did an amazing job of drawing you right in to this dystopian world from the very first sentence, and yes, you will be running out to get book three, Allegiant.  Roth makes complex characters that are so engaging and they leave you wanting to know more.  Tris is very much a reluctant hero who genuinely wants to do what is best for everyone; how can you not cheer that on?  I really liked that she makes hard decisions not because it will win her popularity but because it is the right thing to do.  In fact, often her decisions make her friends very upset.  It was refreshing to see her and Four struggle to keep their relationship together.  It felt very realistic in that their opinions often differed, especially in a world that is slowly crumbling in on itself.  I really liked Divergent, but I loved Insurgent. It was unique, well written, and suspenseful.

Bones of Faerie

If you are looking for a dark faerie young adult novel, then be sure to pick-up Janni Lee Simner’s Bones of Faerie trilogy.  Simner creates such an original world and story that I found it to be an incredibly refreshing read.

Bones of Faerie is the first book in the series.  Liza has grown up in a very bleak world.  After the war with the faeries, life as they once knew it no longer exists.  There are no cars or computers, in fact there are very limited resources.  Liza also knows that when people are touched with magic they must be “dealt” with.  The evil of magic must not be allowed into the village regardless of how brutal the actions to the inflicted are.  The problem is, Liza thinks she may have been infected with magic.  She decides she much embark on a quest to better understand her heritage and her mother.

This is an excellent, albeit dark, faerie dystopian tale.  Simner did such an amazing job of describing the fear of living in her world.  The mythology of the magic is unlike anything that I have read lately.  It was not just the people that were effect by the faeries but everything: trees, water and creatures have all come to life with magical gifts.  I loved this but  found myself anxious right along with Liza during her perilous journey. You never knew what was lurking around the next turn.   Not only are the descriptions fabulous, but so are the characters.  Liza may be sheltered but she is already  starting to grown into a strong and independent heroine.  And I also loved her healer Allie with her constant optimism.  She is a the perfect balance to Liza’s often pessimistic logic.

We still have autographed copies of Faerie After, book three in the series, in-stock.  Janni Lee Simner has told us she is happy to sign books for any of her fans and will stop in the store to sign books.  Please let us know if you are interested in a personalized autograph copy.

Monument 14

Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14  is an outstanding YA apocalyptic story.  When Dean leaves for school it is just a typical morning with him running to catch the school bus. Things take a drastic turn when extra-large pieces of hail start pounding on the bus, to the point of breaking windows and putting small holes in the bus’ roof.  The school bus in front of him swerves into a Greenway shopping store after watching Dean’s bus crash and flip onto it’s side.  Now his bus is on fire and the other bus driver is frantically trying to save as many kids as possible.  All that remain are 14 students who are now trapped inside the store with no idea as to what natural disasters and end of world events are occurring outside.  All they know is that they must find away to peacefully coexist and survive in the store until help arrives.

This was a fantastic story and I can’t believe I waited this long to read it (although I am happy that the sequel is already out).  It was so different from everything else that I have been reading.  The focus is completely about the kids’ day to day life in the store, which at first glance sounds terribly dull but is in fact fascinating.  I was utterly transfixed but what was happening between the kids, both the dynamics between them and the extreme measures that have to be taken to live.  About halfway through the book I thought that I should be more concerned with what is happening outside the store, but then decided I really didn’t care -the kids were much more interesting.  Needless to say, by the time I finished the book I rushed to the bookstore to get book 2, Sky on Fire.   I had to know what was happening with everyone, not to mention that the end was a cliffhanger.  This has definitely become a staff pick and a favorite of mine.

The 5th Wave

Rick Yancey’s newest novel The 5th Wave is an exciting new dystopian novel with an alien twist.  Earth has been invaded by aliens and they have started to kill off all of the humans.  The aliens have turned off all of the power, leaving the world unable to escape let alone turn on a light.  And this was merely the beginning.  Cassie has already survived four waves of destruction brought on by the aliens.  Her family has left their city in hopes of finding safety, but instead Cassie is left alone searching for her missing brother who has been  taken by soldiers claiming to be with the United States military.   Cassie realizes that the fifth wave has started and the aliens are pretending to be human, meaning the enemy could be anyone that she meets.  She knows that the only way to stay alive is to trust no one.  Her plan works great until she meets Evan, and then the desire to be alone is gone, replaced by the longing to have someone to talk to.  The question remains, can she trust him to help her find her brother?

Yancey does a great job of keeping you guessing who is an alien and who isn’t the entire time.  He creates a gripping atmosphere that pulls his readers right into the story.  You feel like you are right there with the characters.  Not only can you visualize the wasted planet, but you can feel the tension between all of the characters.  I think I am just as nervous with meeting the new characters as Cassie is.  I enjoyed Cassie’s sarcastic and droll nature.  She is often darkly funny even when things are looking really bad.   I think this was a great way of showing Cassie’s way of staying sane.  She tries to have hope, but after everything that she has been through it is difficult to always be positive.  So instead she becomes sarcastic.  This is a great start to a new series.  I finished the book and wanted the sequel immediately.  The aliens are also a nice twist to the traditional dystopian novel, civilization is crumbling but not because of humans.