Category Archives: sci-fi/fantasy

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

these-broken-starsThe Icarus is a luxury spaceliner; it’s basically an entire city flying through space at hyperspeed.  Many of the people aboard are among the social elite, but none are quite so famous as Lilac LaRoux — daughter of the man whose engineering company is responsible for the manufacturing of the Icarus, terraforming planets, etc.  It’s rather funny, then, that Tarver Merendsen — famous in his own right by his “war hero” status — doesn’t know with whom he is flirting when he meets Lilac.  All he really knows is that this girl is beautiful and not *quite* like the rest of the socialites he’s encountered.  After a brief period of flirtation, nevertheless, Lilac decides to shoot him down so that she can get the eventual heartbreak over with.

It’s rather unfortunate, therefore, when the Icarus experiences technical difficulties and Lilac and Tarver end up in the same escape pod.  Unsure where in the galaxy they could be, with very little in the way of supplies and without any way to contact anyone else, the two have to find a way to get along well enough to work together on both survival and coming up with a rescue plan.  My only complaint about this story is that we *know* right from the beginning that they will, in fact, get rescued.  (Based on the fact that Tarver is being grilled about his interactions with Miss LaRoux, there is no doubt that they will find a way to eventually communicate with someone back home and get picked up.  It was only a matter of when and how.)  I highly recommend this book to people who enjoyed Beth Revis’ Across the Universe trilogy.

Happy Reading!

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!

All the Feels by Danika Stone

all-the-feelsLiv didn’t just hate the end of the final Starveil movie… It ruined her life.  As far as Liv was concerned, Starveil *was* life, and the death of her favorite character (Spartan) might as well have been the death of a family member.  Her mom and her best friend, Xander, didn’t really understand, but at least the rest of the fandom got it.  For a while, Liv simply moped about and grieved.  But then she had some take-out Chinese food and was inspired by a fortune cookie — It’s up to you to make your happy ending.  All of the sudden, she knew what she had to do.  Armed with a new (anonymous) Twitter account and some awesome , Liv set out to inspire the fandom and to seek out “evidence” that #SpartanSurvived!

Since my husband is one of the biggest Star Wars fanboys around and had a majorly difficult time accepting what happened in Episode VII, I read the description and just *knew* I had to read this book.  Whether you are a fangirl/fanboy or simply know someone else who is, this geeky romance is sure to give you #AllTheFeels.

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!

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

far far awayJeremy Johnson Johnson was rather unlucky.  Not only did his mom leave him and his dad, but his father became so crippled by depression that he became a total recluse.  Jeremy became, in essence, the adult of the household and started taking care of things to the best of his abilities.  After Jeremy was involved in a prank gone awry, though, he was ostracized by the townspeople who had previously given him enough work to get by.  With the final “balloon payment” of the mortgage on his father’s bookstore [aka his home] coming due very soon, Jeremy began to panic.  Fortunately, he had a friend, Ginger, who had a crazy plan and a guardian angel of sorts, Jacob, looking after him.  Whether he was actually an angel is debatable, but there was no doubt that Jeremy could definitely communicate with the ghost of Jacob Grimm — one of the famous Brothers Grimm.  Jacob was pretty sure he had not yet passed on completely because he still had a purpose on earth, and he was certain that his purpose was to keep Jeremy safe.  Readers who are familiar with Grimm fairy tales will surely guess that something “grim” is in the cards, but they’re not likely to guess exactly what until it’s already too late.  This clever combination of old-fashioned fairy tales and modern storytelling has plenty of suspense and plot twists to keep readers on the edge of their seats, and I’m glad I can finally settle back in mine again. :-)

Happy Reading!