Category Archives: action/adventure

Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

warriorsThank goodness my son started reading this series and insisted that I join him!  All these years, I have been under the mistaken impression that the Warriors series was a lot like Redwall but with cats.  Yes, there are rivalries and battles, but this is much more realistic than the very fantastic (in both senses of the word) Redwall series.  Rather than being set in some fantasy world in which anthropomorphized animals build their own cities and battle against other anthropomorphized animals, this is a story about a house cat named Rusty who longs to live in the wild and joins a clan of feral cats called the ThunderClan.  There are actually four clans of cats, and they have co-existed for a long time by following the rules and boundaries laid out by their ancestors.  The balance of the clans is threatened, though, as the ShadowClan grows stronger and encroaches upon the hunting grounds of the ThunderClan.  With all the action, adventure, and mystery, it’s no wonder I’ve had kids asking me for these books for so long…  I just wish I would have followed their lead and read this sooner.  If you’ve made the same mistake and haven’t yet read these books, I highly recommend you add this to your reading pile soon.

Happy Reading!

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

recklessI first became acquainted with Cornelia Funke’s writing when I read Inkheart.  I quickly fell in love with her rich descriptions and quirky characters.  I was disappointed when that trilogy came to an end because I had so enjoyed living in that fantasy world with Meggie and Farid…  So how is it, then, that I managed not to read this book until nearly SIX years after it was published?  Let’s just say that I have a terrible habit of ordering books that are sure to be popular, based on book reviews and the reading tastes of my library’s patrons, and then not getting to them when I select my own reading materials.  I mean…  I *know* that I ordered Reckless and Fearless when I was still a full-time librarian, but I just didn’t manage to read them myself.  For the record — there are just WAY too many amazing authors out there for me to juggle these things in a way that won’t cause me distress! #LibrarianProblems

Fantasy readers who enjoy a blending of magic and the “real” world will definitely want to read this book.  Jacob Reckless has a magical mirror through which he can access another world.  He has always loved to go there to have adventures and to gather treasures he could bring back home, but his love for the Mirrorworld is tested when his brother, Will, sneaks through as well.  Will is cursed and begins transforming into a Goyl (a creature with skin made of stone).  With the help of his friend Fox — who can shapeshift between her human and fox forms, Jacob sets out to find a way to break the curse before it’s too late.

Happy Reading!

Etiquette and Espionage [Finishing School series] by Gail Carriger

etiquette and espionageLong-time readers of my blog have suffered through my constant lamentations that everything is a freaking series …  I sometimes read a book not realizing that it is the first in a series (ahem, Cinder) and just about die waiting for the rest of the series to be published.  Back when this book first came out, I knew it was part of a planned series and made the conscious decision to wait until after all of the books were out before I read it.  I had heard it was good and all, but I didn’t hear enough to lure me into actually cheating.  The final book of this series came out in November, so I decided I was ready to binge-read the series (well, binge-listen to the audiobooks) this winter.  Part of me is glad I didn’t have any major gaps of time in between the stories, but part of me is so mad at myself that I didn’t just suck it up and read these from the start.  Such is life, right?!?  Darned if you do, and darned if you don’t!

The Finishing School series is just so amazing that it’s hard to explain, but I will do my best to point out the various things I loved.  The cast of characters, both normal and nefarious, was fabulous.  I think I may have clicked with this series so quickly because Sophronia has a very Georgia Nicholson feel to her — awkward but lovable; smart but bumbling.  She’s awesome enough that readers might want to be like her and not so perfect as to be annoying, you know?  And although it’s a mystery and a fantasy that takes place in a finishing school, it is a lot sillier than Libba Bray’s [Gothic mystery] Gemma Doyle series.  It still had plenty of mystery, and there were conflicts with supernatural creatures aplenty, but there was a much lighter feel to it overall.  Readers who enjoyed the steampunk airships of Oppel’s Airborn series and Westerfeld’s Leviathan series will appreciate the fact that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is held aboard a dirigible.  Not to mention the proliferation of gadgets, like exploding wicker chickens and mechanical wiener dogs!  If you like steampunk, supernatural mysteries, and/or tales of girls who don’t quite fit in with their high society families, I recommend you check this series out.

Happy Reading!

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carry-onWhen I read Fangirl last year, I fell hard for Simon, Baz, and the Watford School of Magicks.  I was desperate to read more than was revealed in Cath’s posts.  Fortunately, I happened upon an article about the impending publication of Carry On and knew it was only a matter of time before my wish would come true!  The only problem was that my requests for other books and audiobooks from the library kept showing up, so I kept putting this story off.  (It probably wouldn’t have been such a problem if I had gotten Carry On from the library and had a time limit, but I downloaded it from Audible and knew I had as long as I wanted. #firstworldproblems)

I think what I love most about Rowell’s writing is that it really nails all the nitty gritty, true-to-life details of adolescent friendships and romances.  Carry On was extra awesome because it had all that PLUS magic, mystery, and monsters!  The only things I found disappointing were that (a) I waited so long to actually listen to this audiobook, and (b) there was only one book! 😉  As a die-hard Potterhead, I really enjoyed comparing and contrasting the stories of Simon Snow and Harry Potter.  Some people have argued that this story is too derivative of Harry Potter, but I fully recognize that there are a great many “Chosen One” stories and that having similarities doesn’t make it a rip-off.  After all, some people say that Harry Potter is basically Star Wars!  And though I am not big on re-reading anything, since there are far too many books out there waiting to be read, I have a feeling I will listen to this audiobook (or maybe even read the book) at least one more time…

Happy Reading!

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

these-shallow-gravesJo Montfort is a beautiful young woman whose family is among the social elite of New York City.  She is about to graduate from finishing school and is very likely to wed Bram Aldrich, one of the most sought-after bachelors in high society.  Yet, she isn’t sure that is what she truly wants.  Jo longs to be a writer.  She wants to be an investigative reporter like Nellie Bly, though she knows her family would never approve.  But then, something happens that makes Jo question everything she knows about her family.  Her father is found dead in his study — an apparent gun-cleaning accident.  But Jo knows that her father knew better than to clean a loaded gun, and there are other details that just don’t quite add up.  Will her penchant for investigative reporting and a new friendship with a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher, help her uncover the truth?  Or will Jo’s desire not to upset her family and social order get in the way?

Fans of Donnelly’s A Northern Light will not be disappointed…  I think this story was even better, and I absolutely *loved* ANL!  I also recommend this to fans of Anna Godbersen’s Luxe series and people who enjoyed Manor Of Secrets.  If you like stories of scandal set in the Guilded Age, you definitely need to read this book.

Happy Reading!

It’s All Your Fault by Paul Rudnick

its-all-your-faultWhen I saw that this book was going to be published, I requested it from my local library without even reading the description.  (Seriously.)  Gorgeous was one of the most hilarious books I’ve ever read, and I just knew that this book would be the same.  PRO TIP:  Laughing out loud when someone is trying to read something else in the same room and constantly interrupting what they are reading to share the funniest parts — of which there were, apparently, far too many — is NOT a good idea!  (I am trying to convince my husband that he should read this book now that I am done with it, but he seems to think I probably gave away “half of the story, or at least all the best parts” and doesn’t need to bother.  His loss!) 😉

Caitlin Mary Prudence Rectitude Singleberry (aka Catey) is, and always has been, a good Christian girl.  She attends church regularly, is homeschooled by her devout parents, and performs in her family’s Christian band The Singing Singleberries.  She WAS looking forward to attending college in the fall and eventually settling down with a good Christian boy to start a family of her own… but her entire future is now in jeopardy.  She is not usually one to blame anyone else for her own actions, but she is adamant that none of this would have happened if not for her crazy cousin Heller.  That’s right, the girl’s name is HELLER!  And, as far as Catey is concerned, Heller might very well be Satan in corporeal form.  Heller is a wild and crazy teen star who has gotten so out of control (a la Miley Cyrus or Lindsay Lohan) that her mom begged Catey to come to New York City and act as a chaperone of sorts during the premier weekend of YA book-to-movie blockbuster Angel Wars.

Since the book opens up with Catey listing out all of the crazy/illegal things she did during the previous 48 hours, and mentioning that she is currently in jail, it is easy for readers to side with her from the start.  Heller may have been cast to play an angel in that movie, but she is far from an angel in real life.  I like how the story alternates between the past and the present to slowly reveal what happened (over that weekend and four years prior, when they girls parted ways).  This book takes readers on a wild and crazy ride that runs the gamut from uproarious, to heartwarming, and and everything in between.

Happy Reading!

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

you-were-hereHigh school graduation is often a time filled with celebration and excitement.  For Jaycee, though, graduation day dredges up feelings of anxiety and depression.  Why?  Because her older brother, Jake, died on his own graduation day.  Jaycee doesn’t know how to handle the fact that she will now, officially, be older than Jake ever was.  Though his death came as the result of a daredevil stunt gone wrong, Jaycee finds comfort in emulating his behavior.  Instead of seeing Jake’s death as a warning to be more careful, she finds herself repeating his stunts in an attempt to channel his spirit.  Jaycee expected to take this journey alone, but she ended up with a motley crew of [former?] friends who also needed to make their peace with Jake’s death.  Guided by Jake’s urban exploring journal, Jaycee followed both literally and figuratively in his footsteps and finally discovered that it’s possible to let go of grief without letting go of her loving memories.

I appreciated getting parts of the story directly from the perspectives of different characters, like Jaycee’s childhood BFF Natalie.  But, more than that, I enjoyed the different storytelling techniques that were employed — like the pictures of the poems Bishop crafted in his sketches and graffiti or the graphic novel panels that told the story of Mik, who refused to speak aloud but whose actions spoke for him.  McCarthy did a fabulous job of showing how the death of a loved one can alternately tear us apart and build us up stronger than before.  I recommend this story to readers who enjoyed See You at Harry’s and Before You Go.

Happy Reading!